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Medora’s new fire hall expected in 2014

MEDORA — Fire Chief Doug Koester can remember numerous times when the Medora Fire Department door lifted for a call, only to have a tour bus blocking the exit.

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Especially during the warmer months, the city’s downtown — dubbed as North Dakota’s most popular tourist destination — can be crawling with vehicles, buses and pedestrians, not exactly a perfect layout for fire emergency trucks and personnel that need to get out quick.

After years of work, however, the city is set to unveil a new $800,000 fire hall next year, which will be stationed about a mile west of downtown Medora on Pacific Avenue and will replace the cramped downtown facility.

“We’re very excited,” Koester said while looking over the site Friday. “It will be a happy day when we back the first trucks in. I think the biggest thing for the community is that we’re going to have better access out here. It’s been a long time coming.”

With concrete poured for the foundation earlier this year during Phase I of the construction project, another significant piece of the funding pie for the new fire hall was awarded to the city on Tuesday as Medora Auditor Carrie Law received word that $250,000 from the state Energy Infrastructure and Impact Office.

“Our grand total for grant assistance is now $385,000,” Law said. “The city has had tremendous support for the new fire hall.”

The city also received a $100,000 grant from the EIIO in March of 2012 and this summer received a $25,000 Rural Community Grant through AgriBank and Farm Credit Services of North Dakota. In addition, the city received a $10,000 contribution from the BNSF Railway Foundation. Billings County also agreed to lend the city $550,000, interest-free, in September.

“I’d like to thank all those groups — state, county and local — who have made commitments of time and money to make our new emergency services building a reality,” said Medora Mayor Doug Ellison. “It is badly needed and will provide benefits to the public for many years to come.”

Because of a mutual aid agreement between the city and Billings County, Koester said the new facility will benefit those living outside the city limits of Medora as well.

“This is going to bring more security to the community,” Koester said. “I’ve been fire chief for about 10 years and we started working on this, I think, in 2009. It’s going to be quite an asset for us and will really allow us to come and go more easily, especially in the summer. With the county facility on the other side of the railroad tracks, we’ll have a very good range of service and equal distance from both sides.”

Koester said the new facility will be a 108 x 50-foot building, complete with a meeting room and office area and he expects the project to be completed by April or May of next year.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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