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Palmerton's new fire station is dedicated

  • TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS  Palmerton Borough Councilman Jason Behler, center, watches as Palmerton Municipal Fire Company assistant Fire Chief Dennis Behler, left, and Fire Chief Larry Zawaly, right, unfasten this hose as a makeshift ribbon cutting…
    TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Palmerton Borough Councilman Jason Behler, center, watches as Palmerton Municipal Fire Company assistant Fire Chief Dennis Behler, left, and Fire Chief Larry Zawaly, right, unfasten this hose as a makeshift ribbon cutting during the dedication of the borough's new fire station on Saturday.
Published June 23. 2014 01:49PM

As it does every day, a siren sounded off at noon in Palmerton.

But, unlike any other day when it traditionally signifies that lunchtime has arrived, on Saturday it meant the start of the dedication of the new $1.2 million, three-bay Palmerton Municipal Fire Company station.

Borough Council President Terry Costenbader welcomed those on hand for an open house at the fire station, at which time he asked for a moment of silence for all the volunteer firefighters of Palmerton, especially Jonathan Schuster, who recently passed away.

The Rev. Paul Schoffstall of the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church gave the benediction.

Borough Manager Rodger Danielson introduced the dignitaries on hand, which began with Keith McCall, former Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Danielson lauded McCall, whom he said was "kind of the person who got this started for us in 2008. That's what really got us started."

McCall thanked the community leaders of the borough, and said the fire station is a "beautiful building."

He said the dedication of the fire company should provide an opportunity to remind the community about what volunteers do on a day-to-day basis.

Steve Elton, project architect, remarked on the professionalism of the borough, along with the fire department.

"We tried to give you a building that was as safe as possible," Elton said. "To date, this is pretty much my favorite station."

Eric Snyder of Keystone Consulting Engineers Inc., the borough's engineering firm, said to the firefighters, "I don't know where you get that internal fortitude to save someone you don't even know."

Mayor Chris Olivia said that after years of debate, change, controversy and reconsideration, the borough's firehouse is in business.

"Our new municipal fire company is a perfect fit for Palmerton: centrally located, a fine group of volunteers and a beautiful building," Olivia said. "I would like to thank all who contributed their talents and energy into making this project a reality; Keith McCall for the funding of this project, borough council and Rodger Danielson for seeing to all aspects for this project, the architects ..."

Jean Papay, representing the office of State Rep. Doyle Heffley, thanked the firefighters for the service they provide.

Borough Councilman Jason Behler gave the dedication of the building.

Behler said the fire station is "a centralized building, which was our plan from the start."

He called upon his father, Dennis Behler, assistant Fire Chief, and Larry Zawaly, Fire Chief, who unfastened a hose as a makeshift ribbon cutting ceremony.

Zawaly thanked all his line officers for their dedication to the fire company.

"It's been a process to get this fire company in operation," Zawaly said. "The hours of training that these volunteers put in is unbelievable."

At that, the firefighters manned their apparatus and officially moved the vehicles into their new home for good.

Borough Councilwoman Holly Sell presented several plaques: One to memorialize the dedication of the fire station given to Zawaly and Dennis Behler; and another as part of an anonymous donation of a key to hang in the new fire station that fit the holding cells for the police department, which were also part of the first municipally supported fire station at 241 Delaware Ave. dating back to 1911.

From there, Zawaly presented McCall with a sweatshirt compliments of the fire company.

Wayne Nothstein, chairman, Carbon County Commissioners, "Things like this don't just happen. It takes a lot of dedicated work."

Nothstein said it's very seldom to be at the dedication of a new fire station, and added that the community should be proud of what it has.

Afterward, guests were invited to take a tour through the facility.

In October 2010, the borough accepted a grant presented by McCall for the purchase of a new fire station. It was determined at that time that the borough would use that grant, along with $35,000 from the borough's general fund, to cover the $940,000 cost to build the fire station.

Danielson said at that time the new station was built with a $906,000 grant the borough received, and funds the borough had available.

The station has double entry from both Lehigh Avenue and the alley between Delaware Avenue and Lehigh Avenue, he said. The station also has room to house up to five vehicles, Danielson said.

The two-story fire station consists of 5,880 square feet of unfinished space in the first floor, and 1,736 square feet of unfinished space in the second floor.

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