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Walls up, concrete going down for North First Street fire station

An engineer overseeing construction on the North First Street Fire Station said work could be completed by the end of the year.

“The fire station is moving along quite nicely,” Ryan Holmes, a principal with Dungan Engineering, told the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen during a recent project update. “It’s really shaping up nice.”

The building was painted in early November, garage doors are going in and showers and restrooms are nearing completion. Work slowed down in October because of a few torrential downpours, but a recent bout of good weather has crews busy.

“Hopefully things will stay on track,” Holmes said.

Paul Jackson & Son of Brookhaven is handling the construction on the project. The architect is Waycaster & Associates of Natchez.

“It’s really looking good, if y’all have not been by there to check it out,” Mayor Joe Cox said.

Holmes said a recent find on the property resulted in an unexpected $18,000 cost. While crews were working on the driveway behind the fire station they found “a number of things that had been buried no telling how many years ago,” Holmes said.

Because the soil was unsuitable, crews had to undercut and dig out a “pretty large area” that had to be hauled off, he said.

“It looked like coal and smelled liked coal. We had to dig that material out and then import good material,” he said. “We just could not put a road on top of it.”

Holmes also reminded aldermen it was time to decide if the back drive would be paved with asphalt or poured with concrete. He said the costs were very similar. Concrete at an 8-inch thickness for the 705-foot driveway would cost $43,400.

The concrete for the front of the building was already in the contract with Paul Jackson & Son, but the work in the back was an alternate.

“That was something, I think, we kind of wanted to wait and see how the project progressed, if there were any other unknown expenses that would impact the budget,” Holmes said.

With the surprise $18,000 expense, Ward 4 Alderman Jason Snider wasn’t anxious to spend another $43,000 so quickly.

“We’ve still got to furnish this place,” he said.

Alderwoman-at-Large Karen Sullivan questioned Holmes about the price of completing the job with concrete.

Holmes said it was a fair price at $38 a square yard, but it was up to the board to make a final decision.

“What we’ve been seeing it go for is $53 a square yard,” he said. “The price is a fair price. I can give you a price and if it’s fair. I can’t tell you how to spend your money.”

Chief Tony Weeks is in favor of concrete in front and back given the weight of the trucks that will be using it.

“A fire truck is about 50,000 pounds, and in and out on a regular basis,” he said.

Ward 5 Alderman Fletcher Grice made the motion to go with concrete and it was seconded by Ward 6 Alderwoman Shelley Harrigill. Sullivan voted in favor of it, but Snider voted against it, saying he wanted to discuss it further. Ward 1 Alderman Dorsey Cameron, Ward 2 Alderman Shannon Moore and Ward 3 Alderwoman Mary Wilson were absent from the meeting.

The North First Street Fire Station project is mainly funded through $625,000 earmarked in the 2016 session by the Mississippi Legislature “to authorize the issuance of state general obligation bonds to assist the city of Brookhaven in paying the cost of construction, furnishing and equipping a fire station.”

The current station on Willard Street — a metal building constructed in the 1970s — has suffered a series of maintenance issues over the years. When the project was first proposed, Weeks recommended the new station be built larger than the existing facility. He said city fire trucks are barely able to fit into the current structure’s bays.

Sen. Sally Doty and Reps. Becky Currie and Vince Mangold, all Republican lawmakers from Brookhaven, voted in favor of a multi-million-dollar bond bill in April 2016, $625,000 of which was designated for a fire station. The money has remained in the city’s general fund, drawing interest at a standard rate.

The new station is being built in an existing structure on the North First Street site. The architect has designed plans that will showcase the history of the building.

The station will be larger than the current firehouse with a drive-through bay built on the side so trucks can enter on North First Street and exit from behind the building. There will be additional parking areas inside the building for smaller trucks.