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Finishing touches all that remain for Letcher fire hall expansion project

LETCHER--After a year of fundraising and months of construction, the Letcher Fire Department has nearly completed an expansion project that doubled the size of the fire hall and attached community center.

Finishing touches are all that remain to complete a $200,000 expansion to the Letcher Fire Hall and Community Center, pictured in the background. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)
Finishing touches are all that remain to complete a $200,000 expansion to the Letcher Fire Hall and Community Center, pictured in the background. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)

LETCHER-After a year of fundraising and months of construction, the Letcher Fire Department has nearly completed an expansion project that doubled the size of the fire hall and attached community center.

The 40-foot-by-70-foot expansion added space to a fire hall so cramped, it was hindering the department's ability to respond to calls in a timely manner. Previously, trucks inside of the fire hall were so close together, extra time was spent carefully maneuvering trucks out.

"To get into one truck, you couldn't do it without hitting your head on the mirror of another truck, that's how close they were, and we had to get in differently and make turns and do all kinds of stuff to get out," said Fire Chief Rod Clarambeau. "Now, we can get right out the doors."

He added that, oftentimes, trucks had to be taken out one by one, but now can pull out of the fire hall, side by side and simultaneously from each of the four doors.

Construction took place mainly during the winter, with minor details being finished in the spring and summer. All that's left to do is install air conditioning and pour concrete behind the building, which is expected to be completed by summer's end, Clarambeau said.

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The majority of the $200,000 raised to complete the expansion came by means of private donations, with one major fundraiser-a fish fry-in October.

"We got word out and a lot of the people in the community just started sending us in checks and donating to it, so we ended up doing really well, fundraising-wise," Clarambeau said.

For the department that responds to approximately 35 calls per year and has 23 firefighters on staff, the addition has made a big difference.

On July 4, firefighters responded to a granary fire, which caused an estimated $1,500 in damage to the building's roof. But the call reaffirmed for Clarambeau that the expansion project was a success, as he said firefighters were able to move around the fire hall easier and get out the doors quicker.

"It makes our jobs easier and helps us be more efficient," Clarambeau said. "Really, on the fire department side, it's about being able to serve the people better."

And the benefits were broader for the town of fewer than 200 people.

Because the project doubled the size of the community center, as well, residents can now host their own events, as opposed to traveling to Mitchell, Clarambeau said. Those events include family reunions, alumni banquets, meetings and wedding receptions.

"The community really stood behind us and were really gracious about getting this done," Clarambeau said. "It's a nice addition for everyone."

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The Letcher Fire Hall and Community Center recently underwent an expansion project that doubled its size. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)
The Letcher Fire Hall and Community Center recently underwent an expansion project that doubled its size. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)

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