Thursday, June 21, 2012

6/19/2012 News Chronicle Article

Community laughs, cries and basks in satisfaction as new emergency center opens

Flags of the United States and Pennsylvania flank the Vigilant Hose Co. banner during Saturday’s march down Orange Street as the company relocated to its new quarters. (Photo by R.C.’s Photography)

Fire and ambulance personnel march to new headquarters Saturday

Managing Editor
Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 11:13 AM EDT
Vigilant Hose Co. and Shippensburg Area EMS are home.

The fire and ambulance companies moved into a sparkling new-state-of-the art $7 million headquarters Saturday amid tears, laughs and deep satisfaction, with several hundred community members sharing in the glow.

Among those attending ceremonies at the now vacant Vigilant Hose Co. station was Tim Costanza, a former company president and former Shippensburg mayor, who reminisced about the history at 129 E. King St.

With a row of aging fire company veterans seated up front – many in wheelchairs – Costanza, now a south Texas resident, waxed nostalgic when he recited a list of past Vigilant heroes like Roy Dubbs, Charles Mouer, Glen Bitner, Tom Murray, Sr., Roger Sleighter, John Snyder and Chief Emeritus Charlie Myers. He triggered community memories with references to the familiar echo of a siren that once sounded with every alarm and a towering evergreen that was ‘the town Christmas tree” for decades. And he lit more subtle recollections with references to brotherhood and camaraderie.

Myers and current President Danny Byers added to the fond memories.

Myers cited a site that hasn’t been seen in recent years, and may be forever gone.

“There was a time when the churches emptied on a Sunday morning if there was a fire,” he said. Men in suits and ties turned out for a fire.”

With tongue in cheek, Byers said there are several things he will miss.

“I’ll miss the hot summer days with no air conditioning and the cold winter days when it was cold in the station,” he said. “I’ll miss the clanging of pipes when the heat was turned on and I’ll miss yelling at the guys for parking on the ramps (the aprons in front of the station doors.)”

Hundreds of solemn faces greeted a final refrain from the siren when the decommissioned Vigilant Hose Co. siren was recharged for a final blast prior to the departure of a march down Orange Street in front of dozens more spectators – a march that ended at the new location at Orange Street and Walnut Bottom Road where ambulances and engines were pushed into the bays in a traditional ceremony.

On hand at the new 36,450-square-foot headquarters were state Sen. Rich Alloway (R-33), state Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-89) and Cumberland County Commissioner Gary Eichelberger.

Vigilant Hose Co. Secretary Megan Silverstrim, who served as mistress of ceremonies at the new station, spoke smoothly through the dedication of the SAEMS portion of the building, but balked with emotion during the Vigilant ceremony.

SAEMS Treasurer, perhaps sensing the building drama, kept his remarks brief.

“I’m overwhelmed by how this came together, and how these two groups worked together,” he said.

Speaking through tears moments later, Silverstrim called the moment “bittersweet”

She said, “I equated this move to moving from a childhood home and thinking it would never be the same, but I was here the pother night and I realized it is the same. The company is defined by its people not a building.”

Chief Clyde Tinner was next up, focusing on a practical benefit of the new firehouse.

“No longer will we sleep next to the trucks and the equipment stored next to the trucks,” Tinner said. “No longer will be buy apparatus built to fit our station. To our younger members, I say, take pride in this and take care of it.”

Mayor Hockersmith lightened the atmosphere in his remarks.

“When I was asked to make some remarks here, I thought of a list of things that we can say ‘isn’t it a good thing that,’” he said.

He led with the observation, “Isn’t it a good thing that the first time there was a fire in our community, people grabbed a bucket and not a bag of marshmallows.”

Moving from the humor, Hockersmith offered a list of “isn’t it a good things,” starting with the installation of a public water system and the move from buckets to firefighting apparatus, and ending with that observation that “the volunteer spirit is alive and well in Shippensburg.”

Original Article

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