Plans presented on new building

Published 3:52 pm Wednesday, March 11, 2020

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The Drakes Branch Town Council held a public hearing Monday, March 2, to present plans of the town’s new municipal building and fire department and to hear comments from citizens.

The town and fire department, which share the same building, is currently constructing a new facility across the street from the current building.

The building was heavily damaged following floodwaters from Tropical Storm Michael in the fall of 2018.

The new building will be built out of the flood zone on donated land.

During the public hearing councilman, Noah Davis told those present that the goal was to create a building that everyone in town could utilize.

“The goal that we had in mind was to create a building that can be used by the whole town and by everybody in the town,” Davis said. “This can serve us for many years to come … not just the town and fire department, but the citizens as well.

During the public hearing, town resident, Jerris Wells inquired asking about how the bathrooms would be equipped.

“Are they equipped to handle things when you come back from a hazardous material event?” she asked.

Davis told Wells it is the law that any hazardous material would need to be handled outside.

Another resident Jancie Wells asked about the size of the meeting rooms, citing her concerns for space during elections.

According to the presented plans, the building will have meeting rooms, conference rooms, office spaces, and bathrooms both downstairs and upstairs

According to Davis, the fire department will be responsible for funding the upstairs portion of the building.

Once the building is completed, the town and the fire department will equally split the electric, phone and building’s insurance bills.

According to Davis, the town has put up an initial $350,000 for the new building and are hoping $250,000 of that will be reimbursed by the federal government through grants and insurance payments.

The town and fire department applied separately for a grant/ loan through the USDA under the Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant and was awarded funds in December.

According to State Director of Rural Development Elizabeth Walker Green with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Town of Drakes Branch will receive a $17,000 loan and a $50,000 grant.

The Drakes Branch Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $20,000 loan and a $50,000 grant.

Site preparations for the building have already begun. The town has been able to save funds on the $700,000 estimated cost of construction with donations of land, rock, site preparation and building plans.