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Ainsworth debuts new fire station, with open house for public put on pause due to virus

The new Ainsworth fire station, pictured on May 21, 2020 (Mary Green/KCRG)
The new Ainsworth fire station, pictured on May 21, 2020 (Mary Green/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: May. 21, 2020 at 9:57 PM CDT
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In Washington County, the city of Ainsworth had been trying to get a new firehouse for years.

Its

was built right along Highway 92 in the 1970s. It was outdated, cramped, and not even supposed to be a firehouse in the first place — the building initially served as a gas station and tire store, according to Ainsworth Fire Chief Waylon Schultz.

After several years’ worth of effort into fundraising and construction, the Ainsworth Fire Department, an all-volunteer force with 22 members, finally has its new headquarters, situated on the same land as its predecessor.

Schultz said the cost for the project will total out between $460,000 and $470,000, much of it coming from donations.

“The Washington County Riverboat Foundation gave us the big, $330,000 grant,” he said. “We had multiple banks in Washington, and they donated $5,000 worth. Accel Wealth Management donated the light-up sign out front for the community to use.”

The department is eager to show off the building, which features much more space for both firefighters and trucks to move, an upgraded kitchen, and a combined exercise and training area.

That will have to wait.

“We really wanted to have an open house and a grand opening to share with the public and share with the people who donated all their hard-earning money towards the project and just really celebrate the new building as a community, and we weren’t able to do that just because we can’t have the large crowds and things like that,” Schultz said.

In the meantime, firefighters are training on a more individualized basis and virtually, according to Schultz, and they’re settling into their new space after moving in February.

Initially, the fire department had hoped to open the new station by the end of 2019.

“Tearing the old building down, we ran into some issues with that, asbestos and things like that, and then we ran into some bad weather, and just timing-wise with the holidays and things like that, it just pushed it back a little bit,” Schultz said.

But after years of waiting for a new station, they wanted it done right.

“So if it took a little extra time, then we’d wait the little extra time to get into it,” Schultz said.

Now they’ll have to wait a little while longer to showcase it in-person to everyone else.

“We’ve had two dates picked out and scheduled, and we’ve passed both of those now, so hopefully, sometime before the end of summer, we’ll be able to do that and really show it off to the public,” Schultz said.

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