Members of the Corbin JROTC raise the American flag above the new Goldbug Volunteer Fire Department base building on KY 26 last week.
Volunteerism was the theme on most speakers’ minds during a dedication ceremony Thursday morning for the Goldbug Volunteer Fire Department.
“We’re here to celebrate a great accomplishment, this new building and facility for the fire department that is a significant accomplishment and a significant step forward for our area,” noted Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White Jr.
“We certainly appreciate all the efforts of all the volunteer firemen for all the work that they do in our communities. I think what is most important to celebrate is what led to this accomplishment, a small group of volunteers. Volunteerism, I think, is very important.”
White said he is sure that each firefighter has their own story about why they do more than what is required of them.
“It is through these efforts that we improve our community, make our families safer, improve ourselves and our kids futures. Thank God for volunteers like the ones of Goldbug Volunteer Fire Department,” White said. “We are all better off because of volunteers like you all.”
Andy Meadors, vice-chairman of the Goldbug Volunteer Fire Department Board of Directors, noted that when he was asked to serve on the fire department’s board, he had no idea everything volunteer firefighters did just to help others.
“No one can imagine what volunteerism is,” Meadors noted. “These people have another life. They’re not retired like me. They all work. Any time you see a volunteer fireman out there doing the things that they do, it is because they want to do it and do it for nothing. It’s an extreme commitment on their part to do what they do.”
Goldbug has 32 volunteer firefighters, who range in age from 20 to 40 years old, including four female firefighters.
The department averages responding to 15 to 20 calls per month.
The Goldbug Volunteer Fire Department was formed in late 2011 to replace Three-Point Volunteer Fire Department, which lost its certification.
Meadors noted it was started by an enthusiastic group of young people, who just wanted to help serve their community.
For quite some time, the fire department had fire trucks and equipment spread out over different buildings throughout its 75-square mile territory that includes over 3,500 people.
About two years after it formed, the department started searching for a permanent home but various offers of land all fell through. In August 2013, the fire department began renting the building it now calls home, which is located off Highway 26 near Brown’s Creek.
Meadors said that during this time he started talking to some former colleagues at the Cumberland Valley Area Development District about some possible funding through the United State’s Department of Agriculture that could be used to buy an existing structure for the department.
Thomas G. Fern, State Director for USDA Rural Development, said the agency provided the department with $67,000 through its Community Facilities direct loan and grant program to purchase the facility.
"The Community Facilities Program helps rural communities like Whitley County and Williamsburg upgrade public safety equipment and improve security while at the same time providing the services needed to attract business and create economic opportunities," Fern said.
“I want to congratulate you and thank you for the great service you provide to this surrounding area.”
$50,000 of the money was through a grant and the remaining $17,000 was through a low-interest loan.
In January, the department officially purchased the building, which had been a truck garage, for $65,000.
Since that time, firefighters have renovated and expanded both the office and restroom in addition to updating the plumbing and electrical.
Chief Brandon Woods said it means a lot to have a permanent home.
“We have had fire trucks and a station here and a station there but to be able to come to a central location in our district and to keep all of our trucks there and have all our meetings there, it is the main thing we have been working towards,” Woods noted.
During the ceremony, Woodman of the World representative Reggie Stringer noted that his company was happy to provide the fire department with a flag pole and an America flag.
Members of the Corbin High School JROTC officially raised the new American flag up the flagpole towards the end of Thursday’s ceremony.
“We appreciate everyone involved, who has gotten us to the point we are today,” Meadors told the crowd. “We really appreciate the volunteer firefighters because without them we would never be where we are today.”