Some fire departments under strain as Madison County communities grow

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - Madison County is growing. It's something commissioner Roger Jones notices a lot.

"It is a county that has experienced tremendous growth," he said. In his district, Moores Mill is an area that's growing the fastest. "We're proud that people have picked this area to move to," Jones explained.

But more homes and more families can also bring more challenges to a community seeking to sustain them.

We talked to Jones about the Winchester Road widening project, which includes redoing the bridge near Riverton Road.

"Winchester Road was just not designed for the traffic that flows on it every day," he said.

While the whole project will take years, he believes the bridge is almost 2/3 finished.

"The first bridge is complete and traffic is on it, and support for the second bridge is almost complete," he said. "Maybe by this fall we will have traffic on that side." Jones said the project is possible through state efforts as well as local.

The road just north of the bridge is about half complete, Jones estimates.

Right next to that construction near Riverton Elementary School is another side effect of a growing community: a new fire station.

Chief Bobby Phillips tells us Moores Mill Volunteer Fire Department is almost finished constructing two new fire stations (stations 3 and 4.) As the community grows, his fire/rescue operation has needed to expand like this to respond to emergencies.

"I felt morally obligated to build them," he said by phone, "because that area needed more coverage."

Phillips said they want to bring the ISO rating lower, to assist with decreasing the cost of homeowner's insurance. But they also want to make sure the fire department has fast response times to all the people they cover. Having trucks closer in times of need is a good thing.

Still, building new fire stations comes at a cost. Phillips said they're "barely funding it" through donations, and in fact the department still owes $500,000 on the stations. He said donations would be the most helpful. He is grateful to those who have supported them this far, and for the county school system which has donated land for the stations.

There are plans for a grand opening later in the spring.

Jones said there may be more where those fire stations came from.

"All 4 departments in District 1: Moores Mill, Meridianville, Hazel Green and New Market, have plans to put additional stations in," he noted.

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