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Wesson breaks ground on fire station expansion

WESSON — Officials here prepared for the future and honored thepast Thursday during ground breaking ceremonies for the WessonVolunteer Fire Department’s station expansion.

“It’s been a long time coming … especially with the additionof new equipment,” said Mayor Bill Tigner.

Randle Drane, who was named administrative fire chief during theceremony, said some of the department’s equipment was being storedoutside because of a lack of space. He said that left itsusceptible to the weather and possible vandalism.

“We’ve gotten to the point where we have more equipment thanhouse to put it in,” Drane said.

To address the situation, the town has received $68,000 from astate capital improvements loan program. The loan, with a 3 percentinterest rate, will be repaid with fire insurance rebate funds thetown receives.

“We’re very appreciative to the state and governor,” Tignersaid.

Drane said the project will include 15-foot additions on eachside of the fire station. That will allow for three truck bays andfor each piece of the department’s equipment to have a home.

The contract period for the project is 90 calender days, saidEngineer Jeff Knight. Jeff Pierce Construction Company received thecontract.

“We’re going to issue a notice to proceed starting Monday,”Knight said.

In addition to the ground breaking ceremonies, the town took thechance Thursday to honor long-time fire chief Kenneth Furr.

Tigner read a board of aldermen resolution recognizing Furr forhis more than 50 years with the department and naming him firechief emeritus. The fire station was also renamed in Furr’shonor.

Furr recalled some of the early days of the volunteer firedepartment and some instances when firefighters would have to pushthe truck up a hill on their way to a fire. He said he would stillcoordinate the annual Wesson Flea Market and be around the firestation.

“I’m still going to be down here with them and help them if Ican,” Furr said.

Dr. Billy Stewart, dean of community services at Copiah-LincolnCommunity College, said the school relies on the Wesson departmentfor its fire protection. He said the school and town were fortunateto have quality volunteers who give their time to thedepartment.

Speaking for Co-Lin President Dr. Howell Garner, who was unableto attend, Stewart recalled June 1, 1996, when the Garners’ homeburned.

“Your response helped them to save some very personal andmeaningful family items,” Stewart said.

Tigner also commended the volunteers. With his office next doorto the station, he said it is evident that the volunteer firedepartment is not a “social club” that some people might considerit to be.

“I get to see first hand the amount of time and dedication thesepeople put into it,” Tigner said.

Tigner said the fire station expansion is a reflection of hisand board’s priority to provide the department with qualitytraining and facilities.

“I’m glad it has finally come about,” Tigner said.