Answer Man: Stewartville's fire trucks dispersed
Dear Answer Man, where are the fire trucks in Stewartville now that the fire hall has been demolished? -- Donna
Good question. The fire hall at 417 S. Main St. was demolished last week to make room for a new $1.8 million building, approved by voters in March. The new fire hall should be ready by the end of the year.
In the meantime, the department's equipment is scattered around town. Fire Chief Steve Wolf said today two fire engines, a tanker and a rescue vehicle are at Weiser Precast, at 946 U.S. 63 on the north side of town. There are two trucks at the Greenway Co-op, 111 Sixth St. S.E.; the ladder truck is at Steve's Auto Repair, 211 S. Main St.; the tanker and air-fill equipment are at the water treatment plant, 595 20th St. N.E.; and a trailer and van are at Podein's Power Equipment, 517 S. Main St.
When a fire call goes out, the volunteer firefighters are meeting at Weiser and responding from there, said Steve, who's been with the department for 18 years, eight as chief.
"We haven't had many calls yet to really test" the temporary setup, he said. "It's going to be a little rough at first, and it'll take some coordination. We may need to make some adjustments down the road, but six months is pretty short-term when you look at the big picture."
The Stewartville department has 32 volunteers, and they respond to about 100 fire calls per year, plus another 300 first-response calls.
While we're talking about emergencies in Stewartville, I'll note that the city also will be getting two new emergency sirens, one in Meadow Park North and the other in Bear Cave Park. They'll cost about $43,000 and will fill in some gaps in coverage in the area.
And a last Stewartville item: I talked to City Administrator Bill Schimmel this morning about the fire question and he said city leaders will be at the Rochester City Council meeting tonight for the public hearing on sales tax sharing. That ought to be an enlightening conversation about how Rochester local option sales tax money will be sprinkled around the area.
A few readers didn't appreciate my comment in Saturday's column about wind farms being ugly .
John Rice, of Rochester, wrote, "Dear Answer Man, you are entitled to your aesthetic opinions, of course, but please don't impose them on the rest of us. I would guess that many would agree with me in finding wind turbines -- their vast white blades wheeling against a blue Minnesota sky -- a splendid sight. I wonder if those who fight to keep them out would prefer the sight of a coal-fired power plant. Now that is truly ugly."
Bob Pickett, of Preston, wrote this: "Regarding your comment on wind turbines being a blight on the landscape in Saturday's edition: The wind turbines are no more of a blight than the windmills were decades ago for pumping water and certainly are better than seeing skyscrapers, malls and blacktop parking lots."
Not to impose my opinion again, but I'll just repeat, I happen to think wind farms are an eyesore. As I wrote, "I know they're better for the environment than a smoke-belching power plant," but they're not without costs, and big wind farms clearly have an impact on the rural character and beauty of our area. Take a trip to the Dexter area, stick around for nightfall, and tell me that it hasn't transformed that area.