Wheatland officials discuss next step for fire station

Wheatland town officials discussed what to do next regarding a new fire station for the Town of Wheatland Fire Department at Monday’s regular board meeting.

The meeting was the first board meeting since an advisory referendum to spend up to $3.8 million for a new fire station was rejected by town voters last Tuesday.

The topic prompted some heated discussion — as it has in the past — especially between town Chairman Bill Glembocki and fire Chief Lou Denko. But it appears the issue is not dead.

In post referendum comments to reporters, Denko said he feels the right thing to do is to let the issue settle for a while and let the fire department catch up on other necessary projects.

On Monday, Glembocki said he doesn’t want to see the project drop and that he would favor adding on to the current station with two bays and a training area.

“I think we’ve got two years stuck in this project,” Glembocki said. “I don’t think there’s any reason to stop now. We still have to keep moving forward.”

He added that he intended to talk to Denko Tuesday on how to move forward.

Denko suggested Monday that part of the reason the project may have gotten off track on cost is that the town forced a change in contractors from the company the fire department had done some work with early on.

Supervisor Kelly Wilson, who served as the board representative on the committee that came up with the $3.8 million plan lamented that so few people voted — about 36 percent of the town’s registered voters.

“I think we are all in agreement that we want a firehouse,” Wilson said. She added that she is not in favor of adding on to the current station and she praised Denko’s efforts in the new fire station process.

Supervisor Andy Lois referenced an angry phone conversation with Denko about the station issue in which he said both of them got heated. While he traveled out of town with Denko to look at new fire stations elsewhere constructively, Lois defended his opposition to the $3.8 million plan.

“What am I supposed to do when people come up to me and say it’s too much money?” Lois asked Denko.

At one point, as the back and forth grew heated, Glembocki said Denko has criticized him numerous times and Denko shot back that their continued conflict comes from in part because Denko is the only person with the courage to challenge Glembocki.

The discussion drew to a close with Glembocki repeating he would try to work with Denko on a solution.

“I think we can get something done, but you and I have to get together,” Glembocki said to Denko.

The board is expected to discuss the matter again, perhaps with numbers for a scaled back project.

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