Fire trucks move to airport’s new station

Published 12:06 pm Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fire trucks were moved to the new station at the Vicksburg Municipal Airport Monday, bringing the project that’s been a year in the making a step closer to completion.

“The fire station is essentially complete at this point,” airport manager Curt Follmer, who was charged with overseeing the project, told the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Monday. “We did the walk-through last week and identified items that need to be corrected — minor issues. The only reason we’re not doing full completion at this point is that there is some concrete work that needs to be done.”

Site work for the station at the U.S. 61 South airport began in October 2009 after the city received $1.3 million in Community Development Block Grant funds following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A total of $1,218,000 was used for the fire station. The contractor is Vicksburg-based Fordice Construction. The rest, $82,000, was used to build a 10-bay T-hangar for the airport.

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“I’m excited and relieved and glad, all in one,” said Vicksburg Fire Chief Charles Atkins. “The biggest thing for us as a department and the guys who have been at that station is that there is a turnaround drive-through. Now they won’t have to do all that backing and turning around like we do at Central (Fire Station), or any station.”

Other amenities in the new building include a larger dormitory and TV area, a computer room and a room for the public.

“That’s going to be a great advantage,” Atkins said. “The public can come in and visit — unlike at Central.”

Also, the new station was built 5 feet above the flood level to counter problems the old station had faced.

Firefighters will not move into the new building until the concrete work is complete and a final inspection is conducted, Follmer said.

It is unclear what will happen to the old fire station.

Meanwhile, renovations inside the 60-year-old airport terminal are also nearing completion, Follmer said.

The project “should be done in about 30 days,” he said Monday. “They’re going to have a few things left to do — minor things such as installing cabinets and plumbing fixtures.”

Mayor Paul Winfield did not attend Monday’s board meeting. He is in Gettysburg, Pa., for a hearing by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for a proposed $75 million Mason Dixon Resort & Casino in Cumberland Township, near Gettysburg. The plans have met opposition because Gettysburg, like Vicksburg, is a historical town with a Civil War battlefield that’s been turned into a national military park.

Winfield, in a Monday article in The Gettysburg Times, said he believed the Cumberland Township “community is uniquely situated for a gaming opportunity.”

Gaming first came to Vicksburg in 1993, having been legalized in the state of Mississippi three years earlier.

Winfield’s travel expenses are being paid for by Mason Dixon.