A shiny new fire hall in Mount Vernon

Aug. 25—MOUNT VERNON, S.D. — The Mount Vernon Volunteer Fire department is almost ready to start answering the call out of their new fire hall.

The fire department will host an open house Saturday, Aug. 26, to celebrate the final touches on the construction of its new fire hall. The building stands on Mount Vernon's Main Street, where it will be more than just a fire hall. It's a symbol to all that the town is still going strong.

"Having that new building on Main Street is a beacon that Mount Vernon is still growing, that Mount Vernon is still a great community," said Mayor Weston Frank.

The building will also help Mount Vernon's Fire Department respond to fires in a couple key ways. It will feature wider doors allowing trucks to exit the building more rapidly, in situations when minutes are precious. It will also feature a larger interior space — the current building is over 30 years old at this point, and its interior is too small to house the fire trucks built today.

"Right now, we have two custom built trucks built by local welders," said Mike Kluth, assistant fire chief.

It will help them keep purchasing costs down, Kluth said, as the fire department hopes to replace its equipment over the next decade or so.

In all, Kluth said the fire hall cost $760,000 — just a hair over the original estimated $750,000 price tag. About half has come from a combination of fundraising and money set-aside by the fire department; the rest has come from a loan.

When asked whether it is a big boost for the fire department, Kluth didn't hesitate.

"Yes. Yes it is," he said.

He said the fire department will be moving into the new building in about two months, after contractors put the finishing touches on the building.

The building will replace a couple buildings that were torn down prior to construction. One of them was Mount Vernon's American Legion Hall. Mayor Frank said that although it was sad to see, it was time for the old buildings to go down. The Legion Hall's floorboards had collapsed to the basement, he said.

"It was sad to see those buildings go because they're really historic. But it had to be done," Frank said.

Now erected where the old buildings stood, the new fire hall is meant for all. It will include a recreational room — rentable for birthday parties, graduations and other community events.

"We had a void on Main Street. You always have those situations in small towns where it feels like more and more buildings get torn down and nothing goes back up," Frank said. "Now, everybody says that it looks great to have a nice, new building downtown."

The open house will be held at the new building from 5 to 10 p.m. All are welcome to attend. There will be a meal of pork loin sandwiches served, as well as live music from 7 to 10 p.m., and a bouncy house. Free-will donation is being accepted.