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Squad grows out of facility

August 09, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

WILLIAMSPORT - The Williamsport Volunteer Ambulance Service plans to build a $1 million facility to house its growing fleet and recently purchased a 3-acre plot of land on which to put it.

The headquarters will be located on Hopewell Road near Interstate 81 and U.S. 11.

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When first built in 1969, the current building at 30 W. Salisbury St. met the organization's needs, Chief Dave Hays said.

But 30 years later, the town has grown, and so have calls for service - to an average of 1,500 per year. To answer those calls, the company has had to acquire more than eight vehicles and numerous pieces of bulky equipment.

It has become difficult to store the trucks, equipment and supplies they use because of the building's small size and low bays, Hays said.

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Crowding things even more are boats, vehicles and supplies for the Washington County Underwater Rescue/Recovery Team, he said.

The current building extends to the alley behind it and there is no room to expand, Hays said.

In June, Williamsport spent $185,000 on the 3-acre plot on Hopewell Road, Hays said.

Working in such close quarters has been difficult, but the volunteers are encouraged by the land acquisition, he said.

"I think everybody's morale has increased. They're all pretty happy about it," he said.

The vacant land was selected for its central location, he said. It was purchased from Ewing Oil of Gettysburg, Pa.

Hays said the building will take three to five years to construct, depending on the company's finances.

It will feature a 150-seat banquet room that will be rented out to raise money to pay off construction loans. Offices, showers, a sleeping area and exercise room will be included, he said.

"The new building is more people-friendly," Hays said.

Once the ambulance building is constructed, it will have at least five bays, he said.

The bays will be higher than those at the current station and allow the company to store large vehicles.

The station will likely be a single story with a brick facade, he said, adding that its design will complement the town's historical architecture.

The ambulance company will try to sell the old building once the new one is built, Hays said.

He suggested it would be suitable for a private club or for use by the Postal Service if the U.S. Post Office next door should need to expand.

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