Rock Ambulance House 1 flagpole

Ryan Luffy, center, and some fellow Troop 892 Boy Scouts work on landscaping around the Rock Ambulance House 1 flagpole as part of Ryan’s Eagle Scout project. From left, Evan Sadle, Conner Spink, Luffy, Craig Vilchis and Aniston Boxx.

The flag went up July 1 at the new Rock Township Ambulance House 1 in Arnold.

Ryan Luffy of Arnold, a 15-year-old Fox High School sophomore, with the help of some fellow Scouts, put the finishing touches on his Eagle Scout project, a landscaped flagpole and flag at the ambulance house, during the unofficial opening of the facility just off Jeffco Boulevard near the Hickory Square subdivision.

“It’s kind of a soft opening,” Rock Ambulance Chief Jerry Appleton said. “We have our occupancy permit, but there are still some things we need to finish. We’ll have an official open house and dedication once we get everything done.”

He said plans call for a switch from dispatching calls out of the old House 1 at Lonedell Road and Astra Way in Arnold to the new house on Wednesday, July 7.

The new facility is one of two under construction in the district; the second is House 2, which is being relocated from the Shady Valley area to a site at the intersection of Konert and Romaine Creek roads in unincorporated Fenton.

Long-range plan

Relocating its two oldest facilities is the first phase in the ambulance district’s long-range improvement plan, funded by a $23 million bond issue passed in November 2018.

The district’s original House 1 was built in 1992 across Hwy. 141 from the Arnold Recreation Center complex. It is being relocated to the 2.1-acre property off Jeffco Boulevard, which was purchased in 2019 for $130,000.

“COVID was the big delay, but once we got started, it has gone pretty smoothly,” Appleton said of building the new House 1. “A few minor things held us up because the availability just wasn’t there, and we had a few weather delays, but nothing major.”

The original budget for the project was $2,581,986.

“It will come in slightly under that, once we get it all done,” Appleton said. “We didn’t even use all our contingency funds. We probably knocked off about $400,000 by value engineering and by doing some things ourselves.”

Final touches to the facility will have to wait, due to weather and supply issues.

“It’s a matter of fine-tuning now, like adjusting garage doors for better accuracy,” Appleton said. “We won’t have all the furniture in until probably mid-July. We’re at the mercy of suppliers.

“We’ll seed and straw for now, then do planting and landscaping in the fall. It’s too hot now to plant new stuff.”

House 2 was built in 1986 on Hwy. 21 in the Shady Valley area. It is being relocated to the 13.8-acre tract in Fenton that was purchased for $325,000. The original budget for that project was $2,537,991.

“We’re looking at probably the end of August to open,” Appleton said. “They (contractors) claim they’re a little ahead of schedule, maybe the end of July, but we’ll see.”

He said the new House 2 project also is expected to come in under budget, although there have been unforeseen costs.

“We had some weather delays early on,” he said. “And we’ve had some break-ins, when thieves got onsite and stole a bunch of stuff from the contractors. That was frustrating.”

Looking ahead

District officials hope the realignment of facilities will help disperse district resources more effectively.

“We are on a pace to run 10,500 calls this year,” Appleton said. “That’s above what it was last year, and it’s just going up. With these relocations, call volume will be more evenly spread and response times will be reduced.”

Further down the road, the district’s comprehensive plan calls for another possible relocation and an addition. House 3, built in 1995 at 1500 Prehistoric Hill Drive in Imperial, may be either expanded on its current site or relocated to a new site somewhere in the same general area. A new House 5 is planned for somewhere in the Seckman Valley area.

“We are updating the needs assessment to make sure we are still on track,” Appleton said. “Once that’s complete, we will move forward with House 3 and the new House 5. We have no land yet.”

House 4, built in 2015 at 6707 St. Luke’s Church Road in Barnhart, will continue to serve as the district’s headquarters.

Once the new facilities are complete and the relocations finished, Appleton said the district will likely put the original House 1 and House 2 properties up for sale.

“Of course, that’s a board decision,” he said. “But I expect, once we get everything out and get the new places squared away, we’ll look at how to start the process to sell them.”

The district also may sell part of the new House 2 property along Konert Road. The 13.8-acre parcel is about three times larger than what would have been necessary for the ambulance station.

“We wanted to buy just part of that, but the owner wouldn’t parcel it for sale,” Appleton said. “But it fell under our $500,000 budget for land acquisition, and we really think it’s an ideal location. We decided to go ahead with the purchase and use the extra land for other facilities, like a storage building maybe, or we can sell it off as a whole piece or in smaller parcels and recoup part of our investment. We have a lot of options, and we don’t have to decide right away.”

Boy Scout puts work into House 1

When the flag finally was raised at Rock Township Ambulance District’s new House 1 in Arnold, Eagle Scout Ryan Luffy breathed a sigh of relief. It was a long time coming for the 15-year-old and his parents, Alan and Laurie Luffy.

“We got the pole a couple of years ago, about the same time they announced they were going to build the new house,” Alan said. “I went to school with Roger Ellison, chief of the Black Jack Fire Protection District. He posted on Facebook that he had a flagpole to give away. I went up and got it, brought it down here. That 30-foot pole just sat in our backyard for a long time.”

Ryan, a longtime member of Troop 501 and now part of Troop 892, reached out to several local agencies about the flagpole, and Rock Ambulance gladly accepted his offer.

“We said of course, and we were willing to do whatever we can to help,” Rock Ambulance Chief Jerry Appleton said. “The district bought the light and all the landscaping materials.”

With help from the project building contractor, Brockmiller Construction of Farmington, the pole was installed and the lighting hooked up. Ryan and some fellow Scouts finalized the project with mulch and plantings around the base, and took part in the brief ceremony on July 1.

“We’re pleased. It looks really nice,” Appleton said. “It will be a nice feature when you pull up in front of the building.”

A formal dedication ceremony will be held in a few weeks. A plaque will be placed on the flagpole, marking it as an Eagle Scout project.