Palmerton has hired a Lehigh County architectural firm to design the borough's new fire station.

Borough Council unanimously agreed on Thursday to hire S.J. Elton Architect, of Bethlehem, to develop the blueprint.

Borough Manager Rodger Danielson said the work will cost about $40,000, which the borough will take out of a $906,000 grant it received last fall.

Danielson said construction of the fire station - which will be built in the borough lot at Fifth and Lehigh Avenue - is expected to get under way this fall.

The fire station should be operational by about this time next year, Danielson said.

In October, then Speaker of the House Keith McCall presented borough officials and members of the West End Fire Co. No. 2 with a $906,000 check for the purchase of the fire station.

A veteran volunteer firefighter in Summit Hill, McCall said the grant was a "small token" of what the commonwealth can do for its volunteer firefighters.

Danielson previously said the grant - which came courtesy of gaming revenue from Mount Airy Casino in Monroe County - will cover the "vast majority" of the expenses.

The borough wants to get all of its equipment and firefighters in a centralized station, and added the consolidation would improve its efficiency, he said.

For years, Danielson said West End Fire Co. No. 2 and Palmerton Fire Co. 2 and Palmerton Fire Co. No. 1 comprised the same department.

That was until June of 2009, when council announced that the Palmerton Fire Co. No. 1 would cease with the swearing in of West End Fire Co. No. 2.

As a result, all of the assets of Palmerton Fire Co. No. 1 were dissolved, and council agreed to consolidate the fire companies.

All told, a total of $12,506,892 in Mount Airy gaming revenues generated by the Pennsylvania Horse Race and Gaming Development Act or Act 71 was distributed to Monroe and counties contiguous to it back in June.

Under the act, counties contiguous to Monroe are eligible to receive some of the revenue that is generated at the casino. The money will help fund a total of 34 projects that range from library construction and improving and creating parks to road repairs and restoring buildings.

The funding is distributed by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development's Local Share Assessment account.

To qualify for funding, each project had to show that it will serve the public interest and promote economic and community development.