Town of Superior residents approve new fire hall

Town of Superior residents gave the green light to construction of a new fire hall during the town's annual meeting Tuesday night. The motion to build a new fire hall in an amount not to exceed $1.8 million received 112 yes votes and 41 no votes....

Jed Carlson/ At an annual meeting Tuesday, town of Superior residents voted to spend up to $1.8 million to build a new fire hall. The volunteer fire department has outgrown the deteriorating, 40-year-old building. Residents also approved purchasing land for the new building, with the price capped at $25,000.

Town of Superior residents gave the green light to construction of a new fire hall during the town's annual meeting Tuesday night.

The motion to build a new fire hall in an amount not to exceed $1.8 million received 112 yes votes and 41 no votes. The result brought a round of applause from the standing-room-only crowd.

"I'm just glad it passed," town resident Steve Edwards said. "These guys do great work. The fire hall they're working out of isn't working anymore."

Fire Chief Darryl Fiegle said the vote showed residents care.

"They care about the people in the town," he said. "So do we."


The new building project is capped at $1.8 million, Town Chairman Ronald Pete told the crowd. That translates into about $5.54 per month or $66.16 per year on every $100,000 of taxable property for the next 20 years.

Prior to the vote, a number of residents questioned the $1.8 million figure, asking if it a quality fire hall could be built for less. They stressed that they support the fire department.

"It's totally agreed that we need a new fire hall," resident Joe VanOvermeiren said. "I think there were other options they could have looked into."

"Why spend more than you need to?" Jim Pirkola said.

Fiegle said the estimated amount is for a precast concrete structure.

"It was more of a longevity issue," he said. "We want a building that's going to last, say, 90 years, 100 years. And the cost per style of building was not much more expensive."

The current steel structure used by the volunteer fire department is 40 years old, Fiegle said, with a 25-year-old addition. The building is deteriorating and bursting at the seams with rigs and equipment.

"When the fire department started, all they did was fight fires," Fiegle said. "Now it's everything - it's EMS, hazmat, off-road rescue - so our services have grown."


If the new building is constructed near the old fire hall, it would have to be torn down, Fiegle said, although the town could decide to move portions of it.

Town residents also supported a motion to purchase land for the new fire hall, in an amount not to exceed $25,000, by a vote of 102 yes to 40 no. The move won't cost town members any more money. Members of the volunteer fire department unanimously voted to provide the $25,000 out of previously raised funds.

"It's already there as a result of all the folks that have been to our fundraisers, so thank you to folks that have been at our pancake breakfasts over the years," Assistant Fire Chief Bob Zimmerman said.

Pete told residents the town would not be purchasing any property until it's been surveyed and found suitable. No site has been set in stone. Zimmerman said that, based on logistics such as call and responder density, the best site for the fire station would be near the current building.

By a show of hands, residents also approved a 50 percent increase in the salaries for town supervisors and the town chair.

"It is quite a jump, but we haven't had any increase for we don't know how long," Treasurer Cindy Theien said.

She and clerk Carolyn Jones compiled information on salaries paid to town supervisors in Douglas County. The town of Superior currently pays the lowest amount per capita - $5.15 a year. The increase would bring that up to $7.73 per capita.

The bump in salary goes into effect after the next election. The chairman's annual salary would rise to $6,300; supervisors would make $5,400.


"I'm actually glad I showed up," said Edwards, who admitted this was the first annual meeting he's attended. "I didn't know they were voting on raises for the supervisors. It just seems like money well spent to me. Fifty percent seems like a lot, but if they haven't gotten a raise in 50 years."

For many residents, this was their first annual meeting. Pete, who was first elected to the board of supervisors in 2003, said he has never seen a turnout that large. He encouraged residents to attend monthly meetings to keep tabs on the progress of the fire hall project and land purchase.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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