After months of debate, McDuffie County Fire Station One should have a future location solidified on Jan. 4.
When construction on the eastern bypass begins, the current station one - across Harrison Road from the Law Enforcement Center - will have to be moved to make room for the road.
Volunteer firefighter Paul Watson had donated land at the corner of Harrison Road and Salem Road, near the current site, to build a new station. However, commissioners wanted to discuss the possibility of moving it further southeast in the county to widen the range of coverage.
During the Dec. 20 meeting, Commissioner Fred Favors - a member of the Public Safety Committee - had asked that the full commission vote on the location. But with Commissioner Darrell Wester absent, Chairman Charlie Newton asked that the vote be delayed until all commissioners were present.
"I think Fred (Favors) said that the recommendation is going to be that it go on Paul's property there," Chairman Newton said. "I'm just going to put everything on the table and see what decision they make."
County officials had discussed the prospect of allowing City of Thomson fire stations to assist in covering the unincorporated area just outside the city limits to allow for the county station to be built closer to Boneville. As a part of those discussions, the idea of consolidating the two fire departments arose.
According to McDuffie County Fire Chief Bruce Tanner, the Public Safety Committee was presented with call volume and insurance rating statistics. He said the proposal to leave the station near its current location is the "conclusion of what some people think.
"I don't think we will come to a unanimous decision," Chief Tanner said. "Some people still think that that's probably not the best place for it to go, and I don't know how it's going to turn out to be honest."
Chief Tanner declined to comment as to his thoughts on the best location for a new Station One.
Chairman Newton said no matter which decision is made, there needs to be immediate movement toward building the station. If the Georgia Department of Transportation stays on schedule and nothing is done soon, he said the station could end up in temporary housing for some time.
"Whichever place it ends up, it's not the end of the world," Chairman Newton said. "Mainly, 10 years down the road, when someone says 'This sure was a stupid thing to do,' I want it known that I tried my best to make the best decision."
Once the site is selected, the next step is to design the building. In late August, Commissioners chose architectural firm J. Glenn Gregory and Associates to design the new station. That is the same company responsible for Station Two and the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport terminal.
Current plans are to build the station as a headquarters and to include an emergency operations center. Station One started as a 12-hours-a-day manned station for the first time in July.