Thursday was an exciting day for members of the Martinez Fire Department.
Department and Columbia County officials smiled as they dug golden shovels into the future site of the department's headquarters.
"It has been a long time coming," Chief Doug Cooper said. "We are ready to move in. We could be ready to move next week."
The site, at the corner of DeSoto and Plymouth drives off Old Evans Road, will work around the current location's main problem - Washington Road traffic. Rush hour or not, firefighters have difficulty getting in and out of the station. The new location has exit routes in several directions.
Martinez Fire Department and Columbia County officials break ground on the department's new headquarters at DeSoto and Plymouth Drives Thursday. Diggind are (from left to right) Mort Lindner, board of deirectors president, R. Daniel Blanton, Georgia Bank and TRust Co. president and CEO, Pam Tucker, Emergency Management Agency director, department Chief Doug Cooper, and Gordon Renshaw, Columbia County Chamber of Commerce executive director.
The new two-story Engine Co. 1 will have three 80-foot truck bays with 14-foot bay doors, offices, living quarters and a place for training officers currently housed at Engine Co. 2. The facility also will have a meeting room, picnic tables and a playground for community use, Cooper said.
"We plan on being good neighbors and holding the noise down," Cooper said. "We are going to have a small playground on site that we'll maintain. We look forward to children coming out to play here."
According to department administrator David Butler, some neighbors were skeptical a year ago when the rezoning of the former baseball field was approved. Now they are now happy to see the department move into the now-vacant lot where children ride four-wheelers. One neighbor even claimed to have seen drug deals at the site.
The $1.3 million building is scheduled to be completed in eight months, Cooper said.
"It will be here before we know it," Cooper said. "We are excited and really looking forward to it."
The current headquarters, on a popular commercial strip of Washington Road, will be sold when the new building is complete, Butler said.
"We do plan to sell it," Butler said. "It is a fairly valuable piece of property, but there are a lot of memories that will go with it."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.