Construction continues on new Bern Firehouse

After starting dirt work on July 5, 2018, the new Bern Firehouse remains under construction and awaits garage doors to be installed before interior work can begin.

The construction of the new Bern Firehouse has been under construction for almost a year, and progress is being made despite the winter weather that has plagued northeast Kansas for the past few months.

The new building is being constructed through a KAN STEP grant, which began on July 5, 2018, when new dirt for the construction was starting to be brought in.

According to Fire Chief Eldon Kaster, they hope to have everything completed by fall 2019, but there are still a list of things that need to be completed.

“The next step is to put the garage doors on to seal the building up,” Kaster said. “After the garage doors are installed, we will start on the interior and then the do the concrete out front.”

Since the construction began, Kaster said the department has been keeping their trucks in four different locations.

“Luckily, we haven’t had any calls since construction began, so the building being under construction hasn’t caused any problems,” Kaster said.


According to Grant Administrator Garrett Nordstrom, Nemaha County has signed the contracts as the responsible entity, which means the county is the grantee and applied on behalf of the fire district.

“When the bills come in is when the county will receive payment from the grant,” Nordstrom said, when asked how the grant would be paid out.

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 potential pitfalls.

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.

In June 2017, the committee submitted their final application. In July 2017, the committee received approval for the grant.

In September 2017, the district been working with the project’s architect – Emily Koenig with eKoe Architechure – to come up with a game plan for the construction phase.

On June 21, 2018, the demolition of the old firehouse began

On July 5, 2018, new dirt was brought in to start the construction on the new building.

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.

Heather Stewart266 Posts

Heather Stewart is a reporter for The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2015. She specializes in court and sports reporting, as well as photography. Heather is a 2011 Kansas State University graduate with a degree in psychology. She lives in Sabetha with her husband.


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