Fire company dedicates new fire house
JUDY DOLGOS-KRAMER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Officials and speakers line the dais at the dedication of the new Lake Harmony Firehouse on Saturday. From left, Shirley Hewitt, Chief Ralph Lennon, Mark Heller (Kistler Builders), Bud Strauss (Pierce), fire company President Louis Montanaro, township Supervisor Larry Polansky, former state Rep. Keith McCall (blocked by podium), and Monsignor John Chismar.
On Saturday Lake Harmony Station 17 dedicated its new firehouse on Lake Drive in Lake Harmony. The event was attended by more than 100 local residents, guests and dignitaries.
The festivities started off with an open house and tours of the facilities, which include the engine room, communications room, meeting space, offices, lounge and dormitories.
At 1:30 p.m. guests gathered before the stage and were introduced to the dais by township supervisor and fire company trustee, Larry Polansky who also led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Station 17 President Louis Montanaro outlined the history behind the new station house, thanking the many individuals who contributed time, money and hard work to make it a reality. Montanaro and Polansky unveiled a large plague which lists the names of all those involved. The plaque will hang in the meeting room of the fire house.
Others who spoke at the dedication included Monsignor John Chismar, pastor of nearby St. Peter the Fisherman Church, and former state representative and speaker of the house, Keith McCall.
McCall, who was identified as having helped the station obtain a $500,000 grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development, made it clear to the crowd that he was not there for the dedication of the fire station "…but to honor the dedication of the volunteer firefighters."
As part of the ceremony, station Fire Chief Ralph Lennon presented a plaque dedicating the communications room to the Robert Hewitt Family for their years of dedication and support of the fire company. The plaque was accepted by Shirley Hewitt while three generations of the Hewitt family observed.
The station also took the time to acknowledge representatives from Pierce, the company from whom the fire company purchased its 2009 ladder truck; and also Kistler Builders, the builder who constructed the new fire house.
Montanaro also took the time to acknowledge the attendance of the oldest member of the fire company, Gus Lengle, who will celebrate his 100th birthday on July 24.
The dedication ceremony concluded with the symbolic housing of the two newest pieces of fire apparatus. The 2009, 105-foot, Pierce Aerial and the 1994 Mack Rescue Truck.
Housing a piece of fire equipment dates back to when the equipment was horse drawn and firefighters would push the apparatus into the fire house when they returned from a fire. Today, in a nod to the past, firefighters symbolically push the trucks into the engine room.
For the housing, Lennon first asked the trustees, honored guests and children present to house the Mack Rescue truck. The Mack was driven by firefighter William "Wild Bill" Thomas. An electrician by trade, Thomas was singled out for having done all of the electrical work on the new fire house.
The second housing of the day was for the Pierce Ladder truck. The truck was housed by members of Lake Harmony Fire Company, and the honor of driving the truck was given to Joseph Lennon, who was recognized by Kidder Township as Emergency Service Person of the Year in June. Lennon was acknowledged for the construction of all of the wood work throughout the fire station and on the refurbished Mack Rescue truck.
At the conclusion of the ceremony Fire Chief Lennon reminded the guests, that "a simple thank you is what keeps volunteer firefighters going."