NORTH STAR - The new North Star Fire Department has been open “for business” for a little over a month.
“We moved in on June 17 this year,” said Fire Chief Bill Roll. “Everybody really likes it. Several fire departments have come by to look at it.” He said the final cost of the project is $300,000.
“We already had $100,000 in savings,” he said.
He also noted they bought the land from the American Legion for $10,000 in 2010.
“We’re a subscription fire department,” he said. “Wabash Township residents pay dues…so much a month. It’s a private company with a board of directors. “
Roll said it was at the annual general meeting in January 2011 that it was decided to go to the trustees to put a tax levy on the ballot.
“At the annual January 2012 meeting, it was agreed to put the levy on the ballot,” he said. “The company members voted to put the 2.75-mill levy on the ballot and, in November 2012, it passed. It’s neat how it came about that the actual membership voted to put the tax levy on.”
A planning committee, according to Roll, was then formed, with construction starting in August 2013.
The land on which the new department stands was purchased in 2010 from the American Legion for $10,000, after the town bought the school property and moved the town hall and American Legion there.
“It was tore down pretty much right away,” said Roll, who admitted the new fire department is probably the proudest moment during his time as chief.
The tax levy, he said, generates $50,000 plus a year.
The previous fire department, located about two blocks south, was built in 1951. The old building belonged to the village of North Star and was its village hall, Roll said.
The new fire department is 95x55 feet and has four bays, which house the 1995 engine, 2002 tanker and the 1987 grass truck; an office; and a training/conference room/kitchen area.
He said the new fire department now has its own generator and can also be used as an emergency shelter.
North Star Fire Department covers 33 squares miles…all but two sections of Wabash Township, one-fourth of York Township and part of Marion Township in Mercer County.
It boasts of 27 firefighters.
“They’re all younger than me,” said Roll.
The department averages 40 runs a year.
Serving on the board of directors for the fire department are President Brian Winner, Secretary Paul Huber, Treasurer Andy Gehret and Nick Schlater, Tony Ungruhn and Mike Westgerdes.
An open house has yet to be set so the public can come in and see what transpired as a result of construction.
Roll has been fire chief since 1977, taking over after the retirement of his father, Verla Roll Jr., who had been chief for 40 years before that.
Assistant chief is Mike McClurg and captains are Curt Otte, Greg Langenkamp and Jim Niekamp.
Roll is a retired teacher, having taught industrial arts and phys. ed. at Versailles High School, retiring in 2009. Since then, he farms 180 acres and has a cow/calf herd.
He also serves as an auctioneer, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Verla Roll Sr.
“I call a sale a lot like them. That’s how you grow up,” the fire chief said. “We have eight generations of auctioneers. I’ve been doing the cry a sale since 1977.
Roll a 1969 Versailles High School graduate, earned his bachelor of science in education from Wilmington College and his master’s in counseling from the University of Dayton.
He is married to the former Mary Edgeson of Plymouth, Ohio.
“I taught in Plymouth my first two years,” Roll said. “When I came to Versailles to teach, my brother, Richard, took my job and stayed for 30 years, becoming a football coach and athletic director.”