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Bethel firefighters move into new station

After multiple delays but without exceeding its budget, the Bethel Volunteer Fire Department’s new station on Oakridge Road is ready.

Fire Chief Michael Laws expects to hold a grand opening for the public in January. The new station sits behind the original Bethel station on S.C. 557, where firefighters and vehicles remained during the almost yearlong construction.

Now that the trucks and equipment are moved and his firefighters are settled in, Laws is looking forward to showing off the station to the community.

“Hopefully they’ll be impressed by what their tax dollars paid for,” Laws said.

The York County Council last year approved spending $2 million from the special tax district budget that pays for the operation of the department. The initial May 26 completion date was delayed, and the council approved $20,000 in contingency money and a 50-day extension when new soil was needed after a wet and snowy winter.

Then, when firefighters were ready to move in this summer, problems with the concrete cracking beneath the weight of the trucks surfaced. The opening was delayed again.

“They felt the concrete was not holding up the way it should,” Laws said.

Despite change orders, and with the builder assuming some costs, the project did not top the $2 million approved by the County Council, Laws said.

“We were actually able to come in at budget,” he said.

The new station took up a significant chunk of tax district money, so no large purchases sit on the horizon.

“There’s always something around the corner,” Laws said. “Right now the department has a good complement of response vehicles.”

The department now will shift its focus to bolstering the ability of all three Bethel stations to respond similarly with trucks, equipment and volunteers.

“I want all our stations to have equal ability to respond,” Laws said.