STREATOR, ILL.– With the historic Streator Firehouse, 613 Main St., in the background, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today joined state Sen. Patrick Welch, Streator Mayor Ray Schmitt, Fire Chief William Wissen and local residents to announce the release of state funds for a new state-of-the-art fire station. The group then broke ground for the project on a vacant lot across the street from the existing firehouse.
Citing Streator’s history as a home to innovators – including Pluto’s discoverer, Clyde Tumbaugh, and author of the Hopalong Cassidy legend, Clarence Mulford – Blagojevich called today’s ground-breaking another product of the town’s innovative spirit.
“The 100 year-old firehouse is a warm reminder of this community’s past. But in the 21st century, our public safety teams need access to the best technology and response mechanisms,” Blagojevich said . “Residents here recognize that and pulled together to come up with a solution that addresses the immediate problem – and goes even farther.”
Construction of the new firehouse is the first phase of a three-part project. Eventually, the city block will also be the site of a police station and a community center.
The governor announced that he is releasing a $1.25 million grant for the first phase of the project. The state funds, combined with an $800,000 legacy left by Irene Heinz to honor her late husband, former fire captain Edward J. Heinz, will cover the cost of the firehouse construction.
Welch began lobbying for state funds for the public safety project in 2001.
“It’s great to see the hard work and vision of so many people in this community finally come to fruition,” Welch said . “I’m grateful to Gov. Blagojevich for recognizing the importance of this project and for traveling to Streator to join us for the ground breaking.”
The Streator project grant is one of only a few special funding requests to be approved by Blagojevich since he took office.
“As you know, during my first weeks in office I froze hundreds of grants that had been requested for special projects. I want to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used to benefit taxpayers,” the governor said. “I set up rules within the Office of Management and Budget that would strictly limit special grants to projects that promote education, health care, public safety and economic development.
“And I have to say – what you are doing here in Streator is a perfect example of the good things that can come from thoughtful partnerships between the state and communities.”
Construction of the firehouse is expected to begin in the spring of 2004.