Arma Fire Chief Mike McLeod ran out of the County Commission room and into the empty hallway and threw a fist into the air.

Arma Fire Chief Mike McLeod ran out of the County Commission room and into the empty hallway and threw a fist into the air.
Then, as Rural Fire District No. 2  board members filed out in the hall, McLeod greeted each one with high fives and handshakes.
It was a celebration that was a long time coming after four to five years of working to get a new fire station put into place for the district.
The Crawford County Commission put its seal of approval on a deal between RFD No. 2 and the city of Arma to put a fire station in Arma’s industrial park. It was a calm end to a long process that involved numerous negotiations and funding concerns.
Several years ago, the fire district was looking to build a new fire station and originally went to Arma city leaders. However, Arma officials did not want to foot the full cost of the fire station in case of financial constraints.
The RFD sought funding elsewhere, and it found that help from Craig Stokes of Franklin. Stokes wrote a grant proposal to USDA Rural Development and received a $50,000 grant and $673,300 as a low-interest loan. Plans were then to put the site in Franklin.
However, this spring, RFD officials began to get second thoughts about the Franklin site and went to Arma one more time to see about a possible deal. This time, Arma officials agreed to negotiate a deal to build the station in the Arma industrial park near U.S. 69 Highway.
An agreement was made for a 99-year contract between the two organizations, and Arma agreed to pay 25 percent of the mortgage and maintenance costs, as well as 100 percent of the utilities. However, County Commissioner Linda Grilz was concerned both about the length of the contract and how much Arma was paying.
According to McLeod, Arma receives “15-20 calls a year” while the RFD receives more than 100. Because of that, McLeod said the percentage agreements were more than fair. The entities did agree to revise the contract down to just 30 years. That version of the contract was approved by the county commission at Tuesday’s meeting.
After the meeting, there was much rejoicing about the progress on the fire station, yet much work left to be done. McLeod said the paperwork would need to get approved, then the engineer would need to finish his work to get plans to the USDA Rural Development for approval before the project goes out for bid in the late summer or early fall.
“We’ve been working on this project for four years. We finally got the details worked out. I really think this is the best way to go for the whole district,” McLeod said. “It’s very exciting. I’m thrilled.”
County commissioners agreed that the contract was a positive step for the whole county.
“I’m so glad we could come to an agreement,” Grilz said. “After further discussion with the district fire chief, the 25 percent seemed fair. I’m pleased we could come to a 30-year agreement. It’s too difficult to see what would happen even 30 years from now.”
County Commissioner Bob Kmiec suggested that the RFD should have been moving forward earlier.
“This is long overdue,” Kmiec said. “This should have been done three weeks ago. Everybody’s happy now. We’ve got to get started so Rural Development can get their money spent.”
Finally, County Commissioner Ralph McGeorge described the situation as a “win-win-win” for all involved.
“I think it’s just an excellent deal working for 30 years. Arma came down to that. It’s a good situation for everybody,” McGeorge said. “We’re showing Topeka that we can get along down here, and we are, following the recommendations that have been made.”

Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132.