Friday - September 8, 2017 2:02 am

Task force formed to determine if La Crosse needs new fire station

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New station could cost between $4-8 million 

Four fire stations for a city of 50,000 might seem adequate in some ways.

A new La Crosse task force, however, is going to study whether more stations, or newer ones, are needed.

La Crosse's fire chief and police chief have been named co-chairs of the task force.

Ken Gilliam and Ron Tischer are among seven members of the special panel, which had its first meeting on Thursday.

Gilliam says a new station will cost between $4-8 million. Last week in the WIZM studio, Gilliam said he wasn't sure about building a new station.

"I'm too new to the game really and, in all honesty, as I'm talking to the people I'm trusting, the people that have been on the department 20-30 years, that I'm working with, I'm getting different opinions," Gilliam said last week.

Another task force member is Doug Happel of La Crosse's city council. He says the four existing fire stations are basically outdated. The newest of which was built in 1967.

"They were built at a time where the population isn't necessarily what the population is now," Happel, who sits on that fire station planning committee, said.

Happel also argued south La Crosse could use more protection, since there are no city fire stations south of Central High School.

The north side has coverage, but it also has problems.

"They're old," Happel said.

La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat believes it's time for newer buildings, because there hasn't been a new fire station built in La Crosse in over 50 years.

Happel also said La Crosse is talking with the town of Shelby.

"Shelby station is actually in the middle of La Crosse and they have to cross railroad tracks to get somewhere," Happel said of the station on Ward Ave.

Happel added that the Shelby fire house is within an island surrounded by city of La Crosse property.

Gilliam says response times and adequate staffing need to be considered for the future, as well.

Last modified on Friday - September 8, 2017 2:23 am
Brad Williams

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from U-W-La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area.  Brad writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse.  He's been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.  

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