Progress is made for future Bern Firehouse

Since the pre-application was accepted in March 2017, the Bern Firehouse committee has been working to meet the deadline of Thursday, June 15, for submitting the final application of the KAN STEP Grant to build a new firehouse in Bern. The committee plans to have a three bay fire barn that will house multiple trucks.

The final application includes the cost estimate of the project, which has been generated by the project’s architect – Emily Koenig.

On Tuesday, May 30, the Nemaha County Commission signed the Environmental Assessment and the Determination of Level of Review, which are items that need to be included with the final application.

An Environmental Assessment is required for the project. The committee checked with multiple groups such as the Kansas Historical Society, Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to see if there are any short-term or long-term effects of the project. The Determination of Level of Review basically says what type of Environmental Assessment is needed for the project.

According to Grant Writer Garrett Nordstrom, the committee should know in approximately two weeks if the final application has been approved.

“If approved, the project is a go,” Nordstrom said. “Demolition could start immediately, and construction could start as early as October.”

Project History

The process for building a new firehouse began in January 2016 after three representatives with the Bern Firehouse committee approached the Nemaha County Commission about applying for the KAN STEP Grant. A public hearing was held two weeks later, and it was approved to move forward with the pre-application process.

After the pre-application was approved through the KDOC, a site visit meeting was held on March 7, 2016. One hundred twelve community members were present for the site visit meeting, at which the two KDOC representatives explained the KAN STEP grant process and what was expected of the community, as well as pitfalls to watch out for.

On May 16, 2016, Bern Fire District No. 4 representatives went back before the board in order to choose a KAN STEP Grant Administrator and Architect to help complete the project.

In September 2016, the grant was denied due to the size of the building that was planned.

In January 2017, the committee approached the Nemaha County Commission and received their approval to apply for KAN STEP Grant again.

In March 2017, the committee received approval for their pre-application.

About the Grant

The KAN STEP Grant will provide funds if the community is willing to provide sweat equity and donations to equal at least 35 percent of the project. As part of the grant, an income survey is conducted and a significant percentage of the fire district must be classified as “low to moderate income” according to the grant guidelines.

The KAN STEP grant is the same grant that was used to build the Bern, Morrill and other community buildings.


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