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Dirt work on fire station to begin

Dirt work is scheduled to begin next week on Van Buren’s fourth fire station.

At a Tuesday night meeting, the Van Buren City Council voted 6-0 to approve a construction contract with Crawford Construction Co. for amounts not to exceed $2.2 million for expenses related to the construction.

Mayor Bob Freeman said he did not want to wait until the regularly scheduled council meeting May 20 to get Crawford Construction started on the 13,500-square-foot fire station.

“It is going to take a year for construction,” Freeman said. “I want to get them out there and move forward.”

Rick Rapin, project manager for Crawford Construction, said it will take as long as 60 days to complete the dirt work.

“There is a substantial amount of clearing and grading to do,” Rapin said of the land located on Northridge Drive on the northern edge of Legacy Valley.

The fire station will be located on a portion of 29.15 acres donated to the city earlier this year by Dr. William and Sharlene Gaither of Richardson, Texas. The land was valued at $680,000, according to Philip Bagby, attorney for Crawford County Abstract.

Bill Gaither said his grandfather Harry Kilgore purchased the land as part of a 1,000-acre farm in 1840.

Fire Chief Jerry McAdoo said the pumper for the new station is expected to be delivered before the end of the month. The new truck, fully equipped, will cost about $451,000, McAdoo said.

Pierce Manufacturing of Bradenton, Fla., a global leader in custom fire truck manufacturing and fire apparatus, is currently assembling the truck. Firefighters Tim Arnold and Scott McKinney have been at the plant for an inspection.

Once Pierce has completed the truck, it will be driven to Conway to equip before being brought to Van Buren, McAdoo said.

In 2012, Van Buren voters overwhelmingly approved a 1 percent sales tax to fund a $3.5 million police department, a $2.5 million fire station, $2.5 million senior inn and safe room and $1.5 million in parks improvements. A half-percent will end after the bond debts are retired, and the other half-percent will continue permanently to pay for operations.

Freeman said design for the police department to be located on Fayetteville Road is continuing. The former Sherman’s Grocery has been demolished to make way for the replacement of the current crowded, out-dated building at 111 S. 11th St.

At an April 29 meeting, aldermen approved the lease of Lee Creek Park from the Corps of Engineers. They voted 6-0 to allow Freeman to sign the 25-year lease to operate the park along the Arkansas River. The park has been closed since the April 21, 1996, tornado.

It was announced at the meeting Shirley and Ed Yeager, Viki and Ken Kilgore and Carole and Jim Williamson will pay for a Fourth of July fireworks display at the Field of Dreams

Also at the meeting, the council agreed to seek LEED certification for the new senior center. Mike LeJong with MAHG Architects said the firm is working with the city and Crawford Construction Co. to obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification for the senior center.

Construction is expected to start in August at the current site with completion 12 months later, LeJong said. The senior center will include 10,000 square feet; the safe room 2,500 square feet with a capacity of 240 people.

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