MERINO - Now, residents of Merino have something new to be proud about.
What started out as a long-shot project to build an 8,640-square-foot fire station and community center is now a reality.
Recently, the town received its certificate of occupancy for the new building, which will house all of Merino Volunteer Fire Department's trucks and ambulance. The new facility also features a new 2,000-square-foot community center.
The money came from a $175,000 Energy and Mineral Impact grant from the Department of Local Affairs, said Fire Chief Dan Wiebers.
"The original grant was for $175, 000 but we have received a $30,000 supplemental grant money which made it even better," Wiebers said.
According to Town Clerk Debi Metheny, the total amount of the grant money fell short of the new estimates for labor and materials, which meant that there are things in the plan that need revisiting.
"It was decided that labor cost was where the town could cut most of the cost of the project," Metheny said.
This was when the town and members of MVFD stepped up and sacrificed their free time - including weekends - to work on the job.
In addition, Wiebers said, about 60 percent of the labor was contracted out from the Department of Corrections, which saved an estimated $90,000 in labor costs.
"We are really excited about this wonderful facility. Now the guys can keep their trucks in one place, which helps a lot, especially during the winter months. And not to mention the new community center which has a capacity of about 100 people," Metheny said.
"With this new house, we can better our response time since all our vehicles will be under one roof. We don't have to worry about scraping ice from our ambulance on cold days, which gives us extra time to respond to an emergency," Wiebers said in a recent interview.
An open house is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. June 24 in the new facility located at 211 Colorado Ave. There will be a picnic meal served and the public is invited.
"I really think they needed a new place. It would benefit them and the community they serve," Esther Bartlett, 85, said.
"The new community center will be great for the community as long as it's supervised well so everybody can enjoy it," Bartlett added.
Merino resident Leonard Alber said the MFVD does a good job in serving the town and its people.
"They are doing a great job as it is and it gets better with this new facility," Alber said.
"It's a big asset for the community. With the community center there is a better place for the community to go for gatherings. It's definitely a plus," Dan Crowell, 53, said.
John Mangalonzo can be reached at 522-1990, Ext. 235 or by e-mail at: email@example.com