Adams eyes single EMS structure

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 24, 2000

ADAMS – Blooming Prairie has one.

Friday, November 24, 2000

ADAMS – Blooming Prairie has one.

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So does Hayfield, Dexter, LeRoy and Grand Meadow, too.

One building, housing multiple government entities and emergency services, is an idea whose time has come.

Now, Adams is preparing to explore such a project.

"I enter this with an open mind, but, maybe, not an open pocketbook," said Leroy Swanson, mayor of Adams. "If it’s feasible, practical and doable, then, maybe, it’s something we can do."

The mayor of Adams and Adams City Council members hosted a meeting Tuesday night at American Legion Post No. 146’s headquarters.

It attracted representatives from the Adams Volunteer Fire Department, Adams Rural Fire Board, Adams Township, Adams Ambulance Service, Clayton Township, Marshall Township, Mower County Highway Department and Mower County Commissioner Ray Tucker, Second District.

The group reached a consensus that a project should be explored and a committee to begin the groundwork for presenting a proposal to the multiple government entities and emergency services agencies was formed.

Swanson agreed to head the committee. Other members include Alan Schmitz, Adams Volunteer Fire Department; John Kloeckner, Adams Township; Tom Mullenbach, Adams Rural Fire Board; David Lagerstedt, Adams Ambulance Service; Keith Vorhees, Clayton Township; Fred Harvey, Lodi Township; Randy Stephenson, Marshall Township; Jim Kiefer, city of Taopi; Roger Jax, Nevada Township, and county commissioner Tucker, in whose Second District the area is located. Other representatives will be sought from the city of Elkton and any other geographic area served by the fire department and/or ambulance service.

Just forming a committee to explore the idea of the project is an accomplishment.

Discussions on such a project began three years ago. Plans for a building were drawn, but no progress ensued.

When the city of Adams acquired the former bowling alley property (0.75 acre) along Highway 56 at the west edge of the community, that made a likely site available.

The near two-hour long meeting Tuesday night recalled the frustration of the past, but held promise for the future.

Everyone acknowledged Mullenbach is the "ball-roller" as Swanson called him for the project.

Mullenbach was honored two years ago with an award for his outstanding leadership and community involvement as an Adams Township Board member. He received a $5,000 cash prize, which he immediately announced would be set aside for a city-township hall and emergency services building project.

"People are definitely interested in the project," Mullenbach said. "Adams Township doesn’t have a township hall and wants an office in the new building."

Dan May, Adams fire chief, said, "There’s absolutely no space to do any of the things that need doing, such as truck and equipment inspections, in the building we have now."

But May and Steve Pitzen, Adams Township Clerk, both said the city-owned property may not be big enough to accommodate all the expected tenants. Pitzen pointed out the Adams Volunteer Fire Department, as well as the Adams Rural Fire Board, have "hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of trucks and equipment in an inadequate and possibly unsafe building."

Byron Huseby, reminded everyone of the need to "protect life and family" and to "strive for facilities that will do that."

"Money becomes secondary, when saving life and property are at stake," Huseby said. Huseby wrote a letter to then-Adams mayor Dennis Vogel and the Adams City Council in March 1998 imploring city officials to make a new facility a priority.

When county commissioner Tucker entered the discussion, the project received his stamp of approval.

"Speaking for the county board, I can say we’re bully behind this project," Tucker said. "The city, townships and county should make it a joint effort."

"It should be a matter of putting the finances together, because it’s really a no-brainer. This facility is needed," Tucker said.

Clayton Township Board member Vorhees reminded all laws restrict the specific involvement of a township and Clayton Township clerk, Dave Gilderhuis said with so many government entities involved, a joint powers agreement may be necessary.

Dexter has a building, which houses city offices and township meeting room, as well as the community’s volunteer fire department.

LeRoy has a similar facility and the newest one is at Grand Meadow, where the multiple ambulance-fire-township districts created a wrinkle, but did not stop the successful project dedicated just this last summer.

"Why don’t we follow Grand Meadow’s lead?" said Tucker, who unabashedly said the county should be a partner with the others in the project. "In this area that you all serve, there is a chunk of people being served and it’s only right the county be a part of the project," he said.

When the representatives on the exploratory committee are confirmed, a meeting will be called.

Swanson hinted that one of the obstacles to be faced is pleasing so many different agencies and government entities.

Except for the Mullenbach $5,000 "seed money" for the project in the Adams Township bank account, no money has been set aside by the city of Adams or anyone else for a building project. Also, Swanson said the city of Adams has spent $36,000 on acquiring the property and preparing the site for future development.

Still, the mayor remains optimistic.

"I think we can have a viable project provided we can meet the criteria of everyone involved."