By CONNIE LEINBACH
By CONNIE LEINBACH
Ocracoke will have a new fire house in about eight months, following the long-awaited ground breaking at the site of a new Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department building along Irvin Garrish Highway Monday.
About 60 residents came out to support the event as crew members from Premiere Construction Inc. of Kitty Hawk began laying out the foundation.
The site of the new building is just under an acre and was donated by Julia and Tommy Hutcherson, owners of the Variety Store.
“They didn’t ask me for it. I volunteered the land,” said Julia, who is Tommy’s mother, before the two used official ground-breaking shovels. “I knew they needed land and I asked them if this would work. This is a good place for the firehouse.”
Monday afternoon, locals and fire department volunteers alike were excited about the ground breaking.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Joan Crowe, as she awaited the ceremony. Her family had an emergency a few years back in which the OVFD’s quick response played a major role.
Board President Dick Jacoby, as master of ceremonies, thanked the fire company’s board, Linda Ihle Design & Drafting, Larry Ihle, and noted that Fire Chief Albert O’Neal wanted to say a few words.
“All I can say is, ‘Wow,’” O’Neal said, and left the microphone.
Ernie Doshier, chair of the building committee that oversaw design of the new structure, thanked his volunteers.
“It’s amazing that a community of this size and the visitors that come here have enabled us to raise the amount of money to do this,” he said.
The contractor for the building, Paul Henriques of Kitty Hawk, also praised the effort.
“The number of volunteer hours that went into getting this off the ground is amazing,” he said about the design work, planning and fund raising. “Y’all are heroes and I look forward to building the best building we can for you.”
The two-story fire house will be brick masonry with an asphalt shingle roof. One million dollars has already been raised to fund the estimated price tag of $1.2 million, Jacoby said, adding that he was very pleased with the number of folks who attended the ceremony.
The new building will amply house the company’s five vehicles in its four bays as one bay will stack two vehicles, Jacoby said.
That all the vehicles are inside a heated building may help the fire company get a better insurance rating. Last year, the state insurance office gave the company a 6 rating, down from 8, which Jacoby said is good.
“The lower the number, the better,” he said. Since then, the company purchased a ladder truck, which may further lower the company’s rating, but it’s not a sure thing.
Jacoby said it is up to homeowners to inform their insurance companies of the OVFD’s change in rating, although many insurance companies have this information.
Bingo will continue this summer from early May until the end of August in the current fire house along Back Road, but officials do not know if there will be bingo next summer when they move into the new quarters, said Teresa O’Neal, who runs the popular Tuesday night event.
The OVFD is planning its annual Firemen’s Ball, a fundraiser, for Saturday, May 25, in the Ocracoke Community Center.
The day will start off with a pig pickin’ (last year 600 were served), followed by a silent and a live auction, finishing off with live music by three great local favorites — The Ocracoke Rockers, The Aaron Caswell Band, and The Dune Dogs.