Ahmeek Fire requests help with new building

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Tony Spagnotti and Debbie Mann spoke to the County Board Wednesday, on the need of the Ahmeek Fire Department/Keweenaw County Sheriff Off-Road Rescue to have a new, larger facility.

AHMEEK — The Ahmeek Volunteer Fire Department facility is completely inadequate for the department’s needs, and needs to be replaced, Tony Spagnotti and Debbie Mann of the fire department told the Keweenaw County Board Wednesday.

They asked the board for a resolution of support for the department’s moving forward and beginning the fund-raising campaign. They will need to raise approximately $500,000.

“The estimates that we’ve received are between $400,000-600,000,” Mann said. “We are asking the Board, if possible, to unanimously support us in trying to get out there and raise money.”

The project has already begun, Mann said, with the application of a $200,000 grant from the John and Melissa Besse Foundation.

However, to move forward with the initial phase of the project, there is a requirement for engineered drawings of the plans for the new building, which was estimated at $3,200. The drawings, said Mann, are necessary to the grant request. Because the fire department is financially dependent on the county, Mann asked the board to fund the drawings.

“The other thing that we want,” said Mann, “if we cannot get any money in the future through philanthropists and other organizations, and grant money, we would like to propose that capital money given through a millage, if need be.”

Eleven years ago, the village of Ahmeek donated the use of one of the Department of Public Works garages for the fire department. But the building is too small.

Through grants and donation the Ahmeek Fire Department and Keweenaw County Sheriff Off-Road Rescue has acquired vehicles, snowmobiles, a four-wheeler, a six-wheeler, rescue sleds for victims, and trailers to haul them. The Keweenaw County Sheriff would like to add a boat to the service, as well. But because of the size of the building and the number of vehicles, trailers and off-road vehicles are parked outside of the unheated building. The building has a gravel floor, and there is no plumbing or running water in the facility. There is also no available room to conduct repairs or maintenance on the equipment in the building.

The board voted to approve up to $3,200 for the engineering drawings.