Today marks the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on our homeland. We shall not forget.
The Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District is in the process of creating a lasting memorial with a monument involving a World Trade Center artifact for all to see. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. today at Fire Station #33 at 121 Lenell Rd.
Fort Myers-based Boulton Construction has volunteered its services to design, plan, build and help with fundraising efforts for the construction of the memorial. The District will accept donations to financially support the project. Contact Beach Fire Assistant Chief Tom May at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-5715 if interested in purchasing an engraved permanent brick that will be displayed at the memorial site. Funds will also be generated from sales of t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc.
FMB Fire Commissioner Ted Schindler, contractor Brian Sullivan and Beach Assistant Fire Chief Tom May stand beside a life-size replica of a monument that is part of a memorial being planned for construction and placed at Fire Station #33.
The 9-11 memorial is expected to be completed and erected at the island's south end station in February 2014, and a remembrance ceremony is slated at that location a year from today on Sept. 11, 2014. The constructed memorial will commemorate the attacks and honor all the lives that were lost -the fallen victims and heroes- on that infamous day.
Beach Fire Commissioners unanimously gave their approval for fundraising aspects last Thursday during a special meeting at Fire Station #31.
"As a premier vacation destination, our community serves as a gateway for thousands of individuals from around the globe. This monument will serve as a symbol of this great nation's resiliency, and an ideal way to honor the memories of the close to 3,000 lives that were lost that tragic September day," said Beach Fire Chief Darren White. "I want to encourage all District residents and visitors to please take an active role in the support of this worthwhile effort. This memorial monument belongs to our community, therefore, communal support is essential to the success of this project."
Brian Sullivan of Boulten Construction attended the special meeting. He and May have had many prior conversations about the monument, which is in the final planning stages. Boulten Construction is on Beach Fire's preferred contractors list. Sullivan has passion and dedication to this project since he is a retired firefighter (out on disability), his father is a New York state policeman and his grandfather worked three blocks away from the World Trade Center.
Costs generated for the project will not only pay for construction of the memorial and extra phases of it, but also long-term maintenance associated with the monument once constructed. Due to promised local chariable contributions, the memorial has been expanded to a more elaborate project.
"We are looking to finish collecting money by Dec. 9, and get this process underway," said May at the special meeting.
Any and all funds over construction-related costs will go to the New York City FireFighter's & EMS Police Widows and Orphans 911 Fund.
The memorial construction was slated to begin two years ago, but complications arose. This second attempt is expected to be without problems.
"We were looking for a contractor because the last contractor said they were going to do something, but it kind of fell short," said May. "Brian has graciously agreed to help us out."
The artifact was one of two 30"-16"-16" I-beams collected from the World Trade Center wreckage site. The historic wreckage from 9/11 was made available to first responders once Osama bin Laden was captured. The steel beams were declared artifacts in May 2011.
FMB Fire Medical Officer Capt. Randy Kraus, a New York City native and paramedic/first responder in that city at the time of the terrorist attacks, was accompanied by White and Capt. Ronald Martin in July 2011 to pick up the pieces of World Trade Center history in the FMB Community Emergency Response Team van. The artifacts were obtained after Kraus sent a written inquiry to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which maintains the WTC site, and was later approved.
While one of the I-beams will be part of the monument at Fire Station #33, the other one -cut into three peices- can be viewed on display at the other three fire district facilities.
Fire Commissioner sets tentative millage and budget
On Thursday, during its first public budget hearing at Town Hall, the Fort Myers Beach Board of Fire Commissioners was told it would have to knock off $104,000 from Beach Fire's prepared budget to lower its tentative millage rate of 2.5500 to its roll back rate of 2.5136. The action would not raise taxes.
Beach Fire has a proposed budget of $13,983,600.
The fire commissioners decided to stand pat on the existing rate of 2.5500 mils, then look to cut expenditures at the following Tuesday's budget workshop. Its final budget hearing was set for Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 6:30 p.m.
The budget does reflect the hiring of two additional entry level fire fighters. If the Board decided to block the hirings, it would save on the shortfall on personal services under expenditures.
"It's important to understand that we are not trying to increase the dollar amount taken in the form of tax revenue. That is why we are looking to use the roll back rate," said Fire Commissioner Ted Schindler. "The tentative budget set tonight was for a larger amount, and that is the not-to-exceed rate. Our attempt again is to keep the roll back rate, so that people will pay no more than they did last year."