By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — The Doug and Sandra Cline Trust recently committed funding to the city of Newkirk for a planned Public Safety Center, a new facility that will house both the fire and police department in what is expected to be a boost to public safety in the future.
City officials are thrilled at the funding.
“It is wonderful that the Trust sought to do this, and we’re certainly grateful for it,” said City Manager Ryan Smykil.
The Doug and Sandra Cline Trust committed about $3 million to the city, to be paid out based on cost. The Cline Trust was created to benefit numerous organizations in the community for the betterment of Newkirk.
“Sandra Cline had certain organizations she wanted to benefit, and the city was one of them, and the trustees wanted to do something that would benefit everyone in the city,” said Trust Finance Manager Lisa Kubik. ”There was a need for it, and what better way to benefit all of Newkirk, which was Sandra’s Cline’s wishes.”
The building will be located in the 100 Block of South Maple, across from the Kay County Courthouse.
The Safety Center is expected to increase the efficiency of first responder services, including the fire department and EMS as well as the police department.
For the Fire Department, the facility is aging, having been constructed in 1955, and has many problems, including water leaks and heating and air issues. There is also a problem with vehicle storage, as the station was constructed to house smaller vehicles.
“When the station was built, we weren’t even in the ambulance service, and the (fire) engines were smaller,” said Fire Chief Adam Longcrier.
The smaller station has also forced them to store several vehicles outside.
“We have two tanker trucks, but in the winter months, we have to drain them. The pumps, the lines, the water in the tank will freeze, and things break,” Longcrier said. “It takes us 10 – 15 minutes to get our trucks refilled to head out to a fire.”
The Police Department, located across Seventh Street from the Fire Department, also has its own facility issues.
“The police station is worse than the fire station. There are leaks, and the flood is caving in,” Longcrier said.
The Safety Center will house all emergency services in one building, which is expected to increase efficiency for all. For one, all vehicles will be housed indoors, away from inclement weather, and it will reduce utility bills for the city by cutting electricity use.
“The new Public Safety Center will combine the Police and Fire into one building,” Longcrier said. “The police dispatcher will be over there.”
There will also be a safety room for city officials in case of inclement weather, which they don’t currently have.
“We will have shelter to go to, and there will be a true EOC (emergency operations command) center for the city,” Longcrier said. “It will be able to house all department heads, and run the city from the building, if needed.”
There still is much work to do before bidding and construction can begin, but until then, city leaders are happy with the facility, and look forward to better operations in the future.
“I can’t overstate how important it is to have a place for the trucks,” Longcrier said. “Everyone’s excited, and we can’t wait for this to happen.”