About 100 people gathered on the lawn of Fire Station No. 3 Monday afternoon, Aug. 12, 2019, to dedicate and officially open the new station.
Located at 1015 Wilkesboro Blvd. NE, Station No. 3 is the City of Lenoir’s third fire station. Station No. 3 will house one fire engine, four fire fighters, plus a battalion chief. The new firehouse will provide faster response to the eastern part of the city.
City staff had planned to build a new fire station on Tremont Park Drive NE, but the initial bids came in over budget. City Manager Scott Hildebran decided to take a different approach. Mac Martin had expressed interest in selling his property on Wilkseboro Boulevard in the past. Hildebran spoke with Martin to see if he was still interested. Martin was interested, and City Council and staff worked out deal to purchase Martin’s building and upfit it for a new fire station.
The City was also fortunate to receive a $1,360,000 zero-interest, 10-year loan from Blue Ridge Energy to help fund the station. Blue Ridge Energy secured funding for the loan through the USDA's Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program.
Fire Chief Ken Hair started the dedication ceremony by thanking the City Council, Blue Ridge Energy, the Mac Martin Family, and everyone who worked to make the new station a reality.
“This has been a vision of every chief that has come before me. I just happened to be the one wearing the bugles when everything finally came together,” Hair said. “Thank you [Mac Martin] for the opportunity to purchase this building. This was a better location for us. By you allowing us to acquire this property, the City and its tax payers saved roughly $800,000 to a million dollars.”
Mayor Joe Gibbons said he appreciated the dedication of the City’s firefighters and their willingness to help citizens in any way they can.
“Thank you to all our firemen who do so much,” Gibbons said. “Not only do they protect us every day and put their lives on the line every day, they’re always ready to help when needed. You’re asked to sometimes move tables, get bats out of houses and even a bird or two. We do appreciate all you guys do to take care of us every day.”
Gibbons also thanked Mac Martin and Blue Ridge Energy for their help to make the project a success.
“Thank you Mac Martin, thank you so much,” Gibbons said. “Without your leadership, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Thank you to Blue Ridge. Thank you so much for the loans and the grants. We really do appreciate that very much.”
As a former City of Lenoir firefighter, Caldwell County Commissioner Randy Church said he appreciated seeing photos during the past few months of Lenoir’s firefighters working to help complete Station No. 3 and get it ready to open.
“I know from my time and experience at the fire department, that we took care of the things that were around the firehouse and we took care of them with due diligence. I appreciate the firefighters for coming and doing their part,” Church said. “On behalf of my fellow Caldwell County Commissioners and the residents of Caldwell County, we offer our congratulations today on your new fire station. Fire Station 3 is something to be proud of and I pray that it serves you well.”
Mac Martin said he was glad to be able to work with the City and he appreciates having a fire station in Lower Creek.
“I want to start out with thanks to the Mayor, City Manager, all the City Council, Chief Hair, and Blue Ridge [Energy] for funding this deal. It’s been a pleasure working with the City,” Martin said. “It’s an honor to have my name and my family’s name on this building. I guess it’s a dream come true for somebody who has lived in this neighborhood all his life.”
Blue Ridge Energy CEO Doug Johnson said the purpose of Blue Ridge Energy is to make life better for the people they serve. Helping fund Fire Station No. 3 certainly served that purpose, he said.
Johnson also said that the $1.3 million, zero-interest loan was a good investment for the City and Lenoir tax payers.
“That’s good for your taxes. You get better life, better safety, and no tax increase because we’re able to access federal dollars,” Johnson said. “I say congratulations to all the leadership of the city and to the county who are building an EMS [station] right across the road. We’re going to be well protected in this area because of good investments to keep us safe.”
Blue Ridge Energy Board of Directors President Jeff Joines said the company also helped fund new fire trucks for the Gamewell Volunteer Fire Department and Patterson Volunteer Fire Department. Joines lives about a mile from the new station.
“We’re delighted that this is something we were able to facilitate, and we’re very grateful for this facility here in Lenoir,” Joines said. “It is just a mile from the house so we’re very glad it’s very close by. Congratulations.”
After Fire Chaplain Jason Hines blessed the station, Fire Chief Ken Hair and retired City of Lenoir Fire Chief Bobby Coffey uncoupled a fire hose and officially opened Fire Station No. 3. Attendees were welcomed in to tour the station.
Station No. 3 has five bedrooms, a conference room, a commercial kitchen, and multi-bay garage to house Engine No. 3 and other equipment. The building also incorporates natural gas heating.
Chief Hair plans to host an open house at Station No. 3 during Fire Prevention Week in October.
Chief Ken Hair, white shirt, and retired City of Lenoir Fire Chief Bobby Coffey, green shirt, uncouple a fire hose to officially open Fire Station No. 2 Monday, Aug. 12, 2019.
Mayor Joe Gibbons speaks during the dedication ceremony. Behind the Mayor from left are Fire Chaplain Jason Hines, City Manager Scott Hildebran, Fire Chief Ken Hair, Blue Ridge Energy Board of Directors President Jeff Joines, and Blue Ridge Energy CEO Doug Johnson.
View high resolution photos on Flickr.