Capt. Douglas Wofford has waited 30 years for a new fire station to serve the eastern side of Dawson County.
“I’m happy that we’re getting a new fire station,” said Wofford, a volunteer firefighter.
The new 14,500-square-foot, four-bay station will be built on 5 acres off Hwy. 53, west of Dawson Forest Road. It will replace the existing Station 2, which the county leases, at War Hill Park Road and Hwy. 53.
Dawson County Manager Kevin Tanner presented preliminary sketches of the new station to the county commission on Thursday. The project, which will cost $850,000 to $1 million, could begin in May.
“And we should be able to complete the project in late 2009,” Tanner said. “It should be open for business this year.”
The county bought the site next to Tractor Supply Company last summer as part of a 1-cent sales tax project approved more than five years earlier.
In addition to the new station, the site may also house a sheriff’s office precinct and a library annex.
The county also plans to use the building as a satellite tax office and possibly a voting precinct, as well as a recycling facility and county vehicle filling station.
Station 2, which department figures show is consistently the busiest in the county, is manned by volunteer personnel.
Once complete, the full-time staff at Station 3 on Harmony Church Road will shift to the new station, said Dawson County Chief of Emergency Services Lanier Swafford.
Volunteer firefighter Kerry Vanderpool, who responded to more than 250 calls in 2008, looks forward to better serving residents in that area.
“The new station will allow us to get a new engine that is more capable of carrying more rescue equipment,” he said. “Newer trucks are set up for more modern techniques of fire and rescue.”
Officials say the county has needed to expand the station for several years.
“It’s definitely a needed amenity for Dawson County Emergency Services with the majority of our residents living in the area,” Tanner said. “Station 2 handles our largest number of fire and EMS calls and is currently undersized and unable to accommodate our largest equipment.”
Billy Thurmond, director of Dawson County Emergency Services, said the new station will add visibility in the area and keep personnel from having to drive between Ga. 400 and Dawsonville.
“We’re looking forward to getting started on it and getting it going to provide a better protection for that zone than Station 2 covers,” he said.
Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle said a new precinct has been needed in the area since about the time the outlet mall opened, in the mid-1990s. About 80-85 percent of sheriff’s office business occurs near or along the Ga. 400 corridor.
“For us, the new precinct is another area for us to serve the public better,” he said.
Once the new precinct opens, Carlisle said he hopes to have personnel at the facility at all times, with zone officers reporting from that office.
Tax Commissioner Linda Townley said she is pleased with the plan.
“We’re thinking this is going to work out well,” she said.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Hamilton contributed to this report.
E-mail Michele Hester at email@example.com.