Tribe breaks ground on site of new  Fire/EMS Station in Dunseith

TM Times New Staff

DUNSEITH — This past Wednesday was a big day for the city of Dunseith.

It was sort of a dream come true, some say.

Dunseith city officials partnered with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa last week to officially break ground on the site of the new state-of-the-art fire/EMS station on the southeast side of Dunseith, a building that will soon be known as the Dunseith Emergency Response Center.

District 4 Tribal Councilman Chad Counts was Wednesday’s master of ceremonies, welcoming all the guests to this historic moment for the city of Dunseith and its firefighters. Counts, overwhelmed with joy and all kinds of emotion, said this particular project has been long overdue for the Dunseith community.

Here’s what Counts had to say following Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony.

“This is a dream come true for our little city of Dunseith,” said Councilman Counts. “This is something that has been long overdue and to see it finally becoming a reality is very special for our community. Not only will the new Dunseith Emergency Response Center serve the people of Dunseith directly, but the service will help those in District 3 as well. We’ll have a state-of-the-art building right here in Dunseith with quicker response time and services that will extend east for several miles.”

Councilman Counts and the Tribal Council released information to the public about the new emergency response center the week prior. Counts said a lot of planning and hard work went into the early stages of development on this project, many hours of  planning, meetings, phone calls, responding to emails, and lobbying throughout the process.

Cares Act funding that the Turtle Mountain Tribe was allocated played a major factor in the decision to move forward with the project, stated Counts. Funds were made available for this project recently and things started moving rather quickly, he said. A $4 million budget was put in place by the Tribal Council for this project, which eventually fell under budget, totaling $3.6 million, according to Counts.

The main contractor on this project is Woodstone, Inc. out of Brooklyn Park, MN, a Native American-owned company equipped to handle this project in a short period of time. Michael Laverdure, architect/engineer at DSGW Architects who designed the fire station, said construction will start today, Monday, September 21, with completion set for later this fall or early winter.

“It’s been an honor to be a part of this project,” Laverdure said during Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony. “As an architect I work all over the country from Washington to Michigan to New Mexico, but to me it’s always special to do projects on my home reservation… These projects mean something to me.”

Laverdure said the fire station should go up rather quickly — even as soon as three or four weeks down the road for the main structure of the facility.

As far as the building itself goes, the size is projected to be 16,076 square feet. The fire truck bay will be 10,195 square feet, the first floor administrative and support spaces will be 3,384 square feet, 1,516 square feet of space for storage and a training area, and 981 square feet for the EMS quarters. It sits on 3,77 acres of land, again, on the southeast side of Dunseith. It will be made out of insulated concrete forms to help with a quicker construction process, Laverdure said.

According to Laverdure, the first floor of the facility with feature fire truck and EMS bays with corresponding offices, a meeting, a commercial kitchen, bathrooms including an accessible shower, toilet room accessed from the truck bay, mechanical space including a laundering area for fire fighter gear.

The second floor will have the  EMS quarters, a training area, and storage space.

Other site amenities will include    volunteer firefighter parking as well as  public parking. The roof will have a solar array to provide power to the building. Laverdure said this should help save cost on monthly utilities — up to 50 percent, he said.

The Cares Act funding brings a huge boost to the reservation and its surrounding communities. However, with this funding, projects like this one is on a short timeline. Laverdure said he has nothing but confidence Woodstone, Inc. will construct this state-of-the-art facility by the December 31, 2020 deadline.

“What’s interesting about this is Cares funding has to be expended by December 31st so that’s a huge challenge to go from saying ‘hey, can you build an emergency response center and can you get it built by the end of the year?’ It’s almost unheard of but we took the challenge. We have an amazing team. Woodstone, Inc. is a partner in this and they took the challenge. I asked them, ‘can you do this?’ And they said, ‘yes, we can do this.’”

Rick Gottbreht, Dunseith’s fire chief, said he’s been working for the department for nearly 40 years. He, too, was proud of the fact the city of Dunseith was receiving such an amazing facility with help from the Turtle Mountain Tribe. Gottbreht was on hand this past Wednesday to share his appreciation to those who helped make this happen.

“You don’t know what this means to our department,” Gottbreht expressed. “This is unbelieveable. I mean, for a   tribal reservation to partner up with a non-reservation department and think of their people is just remarkable… We’re extremely excited about this.  I can’t thank you enough.”

Councilman Counts and the rest of the Tribal Council were all in on this project and made a strong push for it over the recent weeks. Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony was truly a dream come true for many Dunseith community members, especially chief Gottbreht and the rest of his firefighters. Those brave men were definitely thankful and appreciative last week, knowing exactly how fortunate they are to have a new facility of this kind in the months ahead.

And like Chairman Jamie Azure said, “if cutting response time means saving just one life, then this is money well spent.”

Councilman Counts said in closing: “I want to thank the city of Dunseith and their officials, the American Legion for selling this large, beautiful piece of land to the Tribe at a reasonable price, and especially thank the Dunseith community firefighters and volunteer firefighters for their hard work and dedication. You’ll finally have a new fire station that you all deserve. Your commitment and dedication to the community of Dunseith and Turtle Mountain as a whole is a huge reason why this building is being constructed. If this facility brings quicker response time for our fire fighters and EMS staff, and if we can  help save lives or even one life, then I know we did the right thing… I’m proud of the fact that so many people saw this as an important need in our community, and I thank each and every individual who played a part in making this dream become a reality.”

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