MINERAL WELLS - Current and past members of the Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department, their families and friends celebrated four decades of the department Saturday at the fire station on West Virginia 14 in Mineral Wells.
"We are showing off our past with scrapbooks and a picture slideshow and having free hot dogs and a chili cookoff," said Chief Jay Parsons. "Really, we are basically being reminiscent of the past 40 years."
The department also had children's activities, a cornhole tournament and local band South of the River for the entertainment of all who attended.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department founders pose outside of the fire station on West Virginia 14 during the 40th Anniversary Celebration Saturday. The founders, from left, are Ronald Leatherum, Bernard Cothern, Ron Spaur, Edwin Sheppard, Charlie Cox and Phil Collins. Cothern and Sheppard are still members after four decades of volunteer service.
Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department vehicles are lined up outside of the West Virginia 14 fire station Saturday to make room in the station for members, their families and former members to celebrate 40 years of the department.
A slideshow of photos taken of the Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department over the past 40 years is displayed in front of the current members’ fire suits Saturday during the celebration event for the department’s 40 years of service.
The celebration was also a chance for former and founding members to reconnect and catch up with each other.
Founders Ronald Leatherum, Bernard Cothern, Ron Spaur, Edwin Sheppard, Charlie Cox and Phil Collins gathered outside of the fire station to chat about old times.
"The area was in need of a fire station because when something happened out here, by the time Blennerhassett or Parkersburg could get to us, it was too late," said Cothern, who remains an active member of the department after 40 years.
Like Cothern, Sheppard also remains an active member of the department after continued service from the beginning.
The charter for the department was issued in October 1969 and a local man gave the new group an acre of land to build the fire station on.
"He gave us another 1.3 acres upon his death, so now we have 2.3 acres of land for the station and some training," Cothern said.
The fire station was built with the use of volunteer labor.
"In the very beginning, we built the department and the fire house completely ourselves," Spaur said.
Forty years ago, the department had roughly 36 members pass the first firefighter's class, said Leatherum, who now lives out of state.
"The roll call for our first meeting at the town hall had 58 members," Leatherum said.
Parsons said there are now 23 active members on the department, which is average for the past decade.
"People just don't have the time for all of the training," he said. "About 100 hours is a lot to give just for training."
In the next few years, the department plans much-needed upgrades to the station, Parsons said.
"The station was originally constructed in 1969 and, while it is large enough for today's modern apparatus, we need more specialized apparatus and equipment than anyone could have guessed 40 years ago," he said.
The department's goal within the next two years is to begin construction of a two-story addition at the rear of the present station to allow for training and office areas on the second floor and provide four vehicle bays on the ground floor.
"This will allow for our next 40 years of growth," Parsons said.