Voters approve new public safety building in Lake Hallie - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Voters approve new public safety building in Lake Hallie

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Chippewa County (WQOW)- Residents in a local village voted Tuesday to approve a referendum that, barring any setbacks at a public hearing later this month, will bring a new multi-million dollar public safety building to the area.

"Community support was vital," explains John Andersen with the Chippewa Fire District.

The voters have spoken.  On Tuesday, they supported plans to build a new public safety building in Lake Hallie. And even though the results were non-binding….

"The village board will follow through with the will of the people who voted to do it and so we are going to proceed with that," explains Lake Hallie Village Board President John Neihart.

"Having resident support is huge," Andersen notes.  "What that did was that eliminated any question of what to do with this building."

The Chippewa Fire District tried a similar referendum years ago, but it was voted down.  Andersen says it was because they didn't get the word out enough; and when they did, some of the numbers didn't add up.  So they re-worked the plan, made some cuts, and talked to the public.

"On-duty crews were out on Halloween night doing some fire prevention and handing out information so people got more information than they did five years ago," Andersen remembers.

The new building will be built just across the street from the current one on publicly owned land.

The village says the upgrade will help in many areas that the old building just couldn't support.

"There will be separate facilities for the female firefighters and paramedics.  Right now, sleeping facilities are all one," Neihart explains.  "Hopefully the air handling system will be greatly improved over what we have.  It's pretty much full of mold right now."

"We are a volunteer fire department and this will be an excellent recruiting tool," Andersen points out.  "They'll be working in a professional building in a professional setting."

The village says it hopes to have the new building fully completed in about two years.  The village says residents will see property taxes go up starting in 2014.  A public hearing is scheduled for November 27th at 7 p.m. at the Lake Hallie Village Hall.

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