200 gather for Milano shelter dedication
The 3,800 square-foot building was dedicated, consecrated and handed over to the Milano Volunteer Fire Department during ceremonies held Saturday with a crowd of over 200 in attendance.
Speakers at the event included Director of the Central Texas Council of Governments (CTCOG) Jim Reed, Milam County Judge Dave Barkemeyer, former Milam County Judge Frank Summers and Susan Reinders, Milam County Homeland Security/Emergency Management Coordinator.
FOR THE NEEDY—As pastor and Milano citizen Gary Westbrook consecrated the new shelter, he cited a passage from the Bible, Matthew 25:35-40, which refers to taking care of those in need.
The idea for the shelter came after thousands of evacuees from the Texas Gulf Coast ascended on Milam County for shelter in Sept. 2008 when Hurricane Ike made landfall.
Those that ended up in Milano were housed at the community center, Civic Center, along with area churches.
Milam County also hosted large numbers of evacuees from Hurricane Rita in 2005.
It was after Ike that Milam officials, including Summers (who was judge at the time) and Reinders, began to pursue federal disaster recovery funds, administered through CTCOG and Milam County received a $250,000 grant in 2009.
The VFD then was able to purchase the 5.5 acre tract for the building and the City of Milano deeded 0.6 acres of additional land in unused alleys and roads.
COMPROMISE—Reed commended Milano and Milam County for always being ready to lend a hand and for their ability to work through the red tape that is sometimes involved in working to get grant money.
“Jesse (Love) and Travis (Yoakum) were willing to compromise during the process,” Reed said. “Now I am going up that political line to say that maybe we should send them and that compromising spirit to Austin and Washington, D.C. and maybe we wouldn’t be in the mess (our economy) is in now.”
Barkemeyer also praised Love, the fire chief and Yoakum, the assistant fire chief for being “persistent and patient” during the process of getting the new building.
“The leadership of Jesse and Travis was a huge part of the project... They saw the need,” Summers said. “The project was a team effort by the whole community and they should all be proud.”
Reinders said it had been an emotional journey, with the initial bid on the building coming in thousands of dollars over budget, having to revamp everything and then finally seeing the building complete.
“Hats off to the community of Milano,” Reinders added.
LAND OFFICE—Josh Jackson with the Texas Land Office, who also helped work on the grant that funded the project, present a certificate from his office signed by Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson for the town’s “extraordinary efforts.”
SPECIAL AWARD—Ted Hubert, MVFD secretary, presented a special clock to Milano residents Tommy and Dorothy Standard. In May, the couple donated $10,000 to the department in honor of Tommy’s late mother and Milano resident Eva Standard. The Standards gave the clock back to the building and it was placed on the wall.
When the Milano VFD was re-organized in late 1980s, Standard served as fire chief and Love was the group’s president. They got their first fire truck in 1986.
The shelter includes a “great room” where evacuees can rest, sleep and dine and a large kitchen, complete with men’s and women’s restrooms and showers.
A second building, to be constructed later, will eventually include a four-bay complex for the Milano Volunteer Fire Department.
Gary Vinton, MVFD president, clearly emotional, thanked the community and asked for their continued support in the building of the bays for the MVFD fire and rescue truck fleet.
The shelter is located on US 79-190/Texas 36 two blocks east of the railroad viaduct.