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West Carthage readying field for fire convention

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WEST CARTHAGE — After about 10 years of disrepair due to lack of funding and manpower, the firemen’s field on South Main Street is being brought back to life.

The renovation was prompted by the West Carthage Fire Department being named host for the 2014 Northern New York Volunteer Firemen’s Association annual convention. The event, set for June 5 to 8, is expected to attract nine race teams and many of the north country fire departments, with upwards of 1,000 people attending.

“We’re ecstatic — it’s been a long time coming,” West Carthage Fire Chief Peter Crump Jr. said, noting the department has not hosted a convention for more than 50 years.

The village Board of Trustees threw its support behind the renovations at its June 17 meeting. It was told that if improvements could not be made to the South Main Street track, the firematics portion of the weekend could be moved to Copenhagen.

In July the board approved paving the 450-foot drill course at a cost of $7,900.

The Champion Town Council agreed to contribute to the needed upgrades to the firemen’s field, committing at its November meeting to footing the $2,000 bill for a fire hydrant to be installed at the firematics course.

Chief Crump said organizers have been meeting regularly to hammer out details for the convention, and volunteers have been working on a snack shack and on the field with the help of the village Department of Public Works.

Before the snow hit the area, trees were removed from the track area and surplus I-beams from the Jefferson County Highway Department were delivered. In the spring, the steel beams will be used to construct the arch used in the firematic drills.

Renovations at the cook shack are nearly completed, Mr. Crump said. Jason O’Meara, Natural Bridge Fire Department chief, volunteered his time to rewire the 12-by-40-foot structure, and the neighboring department supplied the materials. Chief O’Meara said some of his department members are on the West Carthage drill team.

In the spring, the village DPW will assist in installing a gravel parking lot for the firematic vehicles using stockpiled materials, Mr. Crump said.

Following the convention, the fire department plans to host one or two additional firematic competitions.

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