VERONA —Verona Fire Department personnel will soon no longer have to slide sideways between the equipment squeezed into their current facility – a special donation from longtime department supporters is seeing to it a new VFD building is completed.
The Verona Fire Department hopes to begin construction on a planned new fire station in early 2023, thanks to a $168,000 donation from the estate of Joe and Susan Miller. The announcement was made during a special meeting of firefighters, residents and village officials on Thursday, Sept. 1.
The new station will be located on a currently vacant lot, at 201 W. Main St. in the village.
It’s a dream 20 years in the making, according to Chief Ray Rayburg.
“Since I became chief, this was one of my dreams. And one of my goals was to have a new station. And it’s finally happening,” he said. “It’s taken a long time to save money because we just don’t have it to save. But we’ve got good equipment and we take care of it, which keeps it longer. The engine’s a ’90 the tanker’s a 2001. The air wagon back there’s a 1986, the brush truck’s a ‘98 — and all are still in excellent shape.”
But the current building housing the equipment, however, is much too small, Rayburg pointed out. “Here we go sideways between everything else,” he noted. “It’ll be nice to have the station, and this will definitely help us attain that new station. So thank you very much from the bottom of our hearts.”
Susan Miller’s cousin, Debbie Norman and Richard Miller, Joe’s brother, presented the check from the couple’s estate during the Sept. 1 event. Joe Miller served the VFD beginning in 1962 and remained with the department until his death seven years ago. Susan Miller was an avid supporter of the VFD who died in 2021.
“He was very dedicated to this town. He loved this fire department. Susan loved the fire department,” Norman said during the check presentation. “I have the great honor of carrying out all of their wishes when they passed away. They were very generous and very worried about the fire department. They wanted me to give this to you. I hope this will really help.”
Chief Rayburg called Joe Miller “Mr. Fixit,” because he could make anything the fire department needed. “That man was dedicated to this department and this town,” Rayburg said.
Rayburg said Joe Miller could never be forgotten because of everything he had fixed around the station, and credited him with helping him get started with the VFD.
According to Rayburg, the current fire station has been in existence since 1924. “This is a great time for this village and this department,” he said.
“It just makes me feel very, very humbled, to think that somebody thought enough of this department through the years,” he noted.
“We’ve got dedicated people and I just can’t say enough about the community and the support that they try and give us.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr.