New Standish fire barn officially opens
STANDISH — Officials from local municipalities, the Standish Area Fire Authority, the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe, and United States Department of Agriculture took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday, April 19, officially opening the new Standish fire barn for business.
For decades, the fire department had been using a barn owned by the Standish Department of Public Works, without a home of its own. Construction began on the fire barn last year after the fire department was able to receive additional funding from the USDA’s rural development program and the Chippewa tribe’s 2-percent gaming funds.
Fire Chief Mitch Oliver thanked everyone who helped out in comments during the ceremony.
“For the guys in the department, there are no words,” Oliver said. “I can’t thank them enough for the hours and the dedication they put into this building, and making it our own.”
“To anyone with fingerprints in the building, we all say thank you,” he added.
According to James Turner, the state director for the USDA’s rural development program, the project cost a total of $702,000. About $285,000 was from a USDA loan, anther $200,000 was a grant from the department, $100,000 came from the Saginaw Chippewa tribe, and the rest was financed by the authority itself.
Frank Cloutier, spokesman for the Saginaw Chippewa tribe, said Chief Dennis Kequom’s directive for 2-percent funding was to focus money on public safety and education, feeling that those were the most important parts of the community at the end of the day.
“So it was an easy sell,” Cloutier said. “We wanted to be a part of something that was positive for the community.”
Turner said projects such as the fire barn are exactly the sort of thing the USDA tries to do with the rural development program. The department provides grants and loans to residents, small businesses, and municipalities in rural areas across the country to help build up and maintain existing infrastructure, Turner said.
Arenac County Commissioner Joe Sancimino, who represents Standish, said the barn was an example of how Arenac County groups work together to improve living conditions, such as fire protection, for residents.
Sancimino said the barn included state-of-the-art equipment for the firefighters, comparable to other modern fire departments.
Andrew Radatz, president of the Standish Chamber of Commerce, agreed with Sancimino, saying it would not have been completed without teamwork.
“They finally have a home of their own, and they are not renting anymore,” Radatz said.
Standish Mayor Mark Winslow said getting the barn built was a “long road” and thanked the tribe and the USDA for their help. The old barn is being turned back over to the city’s DPW, he said.
“They’re anxious to get in it,” Winslow said. “They could use the space, so it’s a win/win for the city as well.”
Curt Hillman, Standish Township Supervisor and Standish City Manager, said it was nice to see the department have its own building.
Oliver said the fire barn would be holding an open house immediately following the Standish Loyalty Day parade on April 28, from about 1 p.m. until 5 p.m., so members of the public can tour the new facility.
The new barn is located behind the old fire barn on Industrial Road, off of M-61 in Standish.