Repairs planned to firehouse roof

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RIO GRANDE – Fire company officials plan to use fundraising money to repay a $150,000 loan for fire house repairs.

The concrete roof has needed to be fixed at the Route 47 building in Rio Grande for a “good five or six years,” said fire company president Bob Zimmerman. Water leaks into the building, he said.

Floor and ceiling tiles will also be replaced in the bingo hall, he said.

Work is expected to be under way in the spring, according to Zimmerman, who also serves as a commissioner for Middle Township Fire District No. 2.

Zimmerman said the hope is to close on the $150,000 loan before the end of the year. A bank hasn’t been chosen yet.

The fire company tried to get a loan about five years ago, but didn’t get it because of lack of income, he said. Bingo fundraisers had been down, Zimmerman said.

The $150,000 loan would be repaid through the company’s fundraisers, he said. Fundraising money is used to maintain the building, so taxpayers aren’t burdened, Zimmerman said.

Some contractors are already lined up for the project. Handling the roof will be RemTek of Depthford, Gloucester County, and Erco of Somers Point, Atlantic County, for the ceiling tiles in the bingo hall. The company to do the flooring hasn’t been selected.

He said the polyurethane roofing work should be completed two or three weeks, and other work will follow.

The firehouse was built in 1956, and two additions were constructed in 1969 and 1977. The roof was replaced in the mid-1980s, according to Zimmerman.

Fundraising has held steady for the fire company, thanks to community support, Zimmerman said. The economy has hardly impacted the fire company, he said.

Zimmerman declined to give specifics how much the fire company brings in with fundraising, afraid that would discourage people from donating.

One of the largest company’s fundraisers is a circus held at each August at the Robert “Ockie” Wisting Recreation Complex in Rio Grande, Zimmerman. But the future of the fundraiser is in limbo.

Middle Township is in talks with the Cape Express Soccer Club to develop athletic fields at the site at Fulling Mill Road in Rio Grande. Other recreation will be available at the location as well.

Fire company officials are looking at different sites to hold the event, including the Cape May Airport in Lower Township.

The fire company would be forced to do other fundraisers if the circus gets canceled, Zimmerman said.

He said money brought in from a mailing campaign has increased, but he couldn’t pinpoint the reason. About 3,000 mailers are sent to businesses and residents in Middle Township Fire District No. 2. The fund-raising efforts have been down since 2009, Zimmerman said.

Bingo takes places each Friday starting at 7:30 p.m. at the fire hall. That event draws an average of 120-130 people, Zimmerman said.

An all-you-can-eat breakfast is also held the third Sunday of the month and is used as a public-relations tool for the fire company, Zimmerman said. Sixty to 70 people come out, and the event runs from 8 a.m.-noon.

He estimates 10 wedding receptions are held at the firehouse every year.

To rent the fire hall for four hours, the cost is $900, and $300 security deposit is required, according to the company’s website. The kitchen in the hall includes grill, stove, ovens and ice machine.

The Rio Grande Volunteer Fire Co. covers 12 square miles in Middle Township. The firehouse is at 1120 Route 47 South.

For more information on the fire company, see riograndefire.com or Facebook.


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