Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department celebrated the grand opening and dedication of the newly renovated headquarters and training center on King Ridge Road with an open house on Saturday.
State Senator Mae Beavers, instrumental in helping the department acquire the former TDOT building, was recognized with a special tribute. A framed picture of Senator Beavers and a copy of the tribute are on display inside the building.
Also during the program, Regina Wilhite of Woodmen of the World, presented an American flag to the department.
County Fire Chief Donny Green told WJLE that Saturday was a special day for the department. "This is a big deal for our county wide fire department. It benefits, not only our eleven stations and 80 volunteer fire fighters, but it benefits our community. This building and training center is available to our other emergency agencies and community groups for meetings. We'll share it with any of those who would be interested in using it. The sheriff's department uses it and our medical first responders have used the training facility. We have two nice training rooms, one upstairs and one downstairs, so we can have two separate meetings going on at the same time. That all results in better training for our department and other emergency agencies and better service to the people out in the communities of DeKalb County. It means so much for our training program in DeKalb County.
Chief Green says members of the department volunteered their time and talents to help renovate the facility. "This renovation has been about an eight month effort, beginning in early January and we've been putting some of the finishing touches on it this week in preparation for the open house. All the labor has been done by our volunteers. We've had a few things like the central heat and air and electrical services that was contracted but all the building and interior frame work was built by our volunteer fire fighters. We've got a lot of skilled people on our department that have some good construction skills. We've been able to save the county a lot of money by doing this work by ourselves instead of having to hire it done. We appreciate County Mayor Mike Foster and the county commission for helping and supporting us in this renovation project. We also want to recognize State Senator Mae Beavers for her contribution in helping us acquire this piece of property that used to be the State Highway Department, the TDOT building. We actually got a deed to the property a little over a year ago. After that, we started planning this renovation project."
During Saturday's ceremony, Chief Green read from a special tribute to Senator Beavers. "Each person who walks through this remarkable facility should always remember Senator Mae Beavers as a very special person who has committed her service in Tennessee's 17th Senatorial District by keeping her constituents' safety and well-being her top priority."
"In 2002, Senator Beavers received DeKalb County Fire Department's highest honor by being selected as an Honorary Lifetime Member. Her leadership in state government and in our communities has been an inspiration to all, and an example for others to lead by."
"Today, DeKalb County Fire Department is celebrating the completion of this building project that is a culmination of many years of hard work. It all began in 2002 when Senator Beavers negotiated a $1 per year lease for this property between the Tennessee Department of Transportation and DeKalb County Government. On August 14, 2007, Senator Beavers acquired a permanent property transfer deed to the DeKalb County Fire Department from the State of Tennessee. Since that time, Senator Beavers, DeKalb County Mayor Mike Foster, and the DeKalb County Commission provided funding and grant sources that made it possible to renovate and complete a large addition to the existing building."
"Without our leader's extraordinary generosity and vision, this facility would not have come to fruition. However, we owe our gratitude to the many people who have been instrumental in making this day possible. To the men and women of the DeKalb County Fire Department who volunteered countless hours of personal labor and sacrifice in the building of this facility, Walter and Linda Siggleko, and Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District's Project Hometown Help for generous financial contributions."
"This facility's central location in DeKalb County is symbolic of the central role it will play in benefitting our communities. This is why, today, we are here dedicating this facility to Senator Mae Beavers, as she is the true representation of community spirit, leadership, pride, and cooperation. Our security and prosperity depend upon our willingness to be involved in our world. Senator Beavers' involvement in making DeKalb County Fire Department better prepared to serve our communities is a testimony to her legacy."
"This is a great day for DeKalb County Fire Department. This is a day of honoring the legacy of Senator Beavers and an opportunity to rededicate our commitment to serve our fellow man. It is well known and widely accepted that investments in preparedness and training yield enormous benefits to our citizens through improved safety, better health, and community vitality."
"Senator Beavers and our county's leaders, through their vision, have duly recognized the importance of public safety in supporting our current and future firefighters. Sacrifices we make today builds our progress of tomorrow. The benefits of this facility can be hard to predict, but based upon the past, the future will be more spectacular than we can ever imagine."
Senator Beavers, saying she was undeserving of the honor, gave the credit to Chief Green and the department. "Thank you for what you do for this community. You have no idea probably of what we pay on a fire rate just in Wilson county to have the service and you are giving all of this to DeKalb County. It's a tremendous help to the county and I appreciate your dedication to your community and just the fact that you're out there everyday putting your lives on the line. It means so much to me. It was an honor for me to help get this building and it's just tremendous to see what you have done with it. I'm going to get some pictures to take to the commissioner to show him what this means and what TDOT has done for this community. It's an honor to serve you. This is a great county."