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Westmoreland

Norvelt VFD awarded $1 million federal loan to build new fire station

Paul Peirce
490798NorveltVolunteerFireDepartmentbuilding
Norvelt Volunteer Fire Department building in Mt. Pleasant Township

The Norvelt Volunteer Fire Department in Mt. Pleasant Township will be getting a $1 million makeover courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The federal agency announced this week that the department along Route 981, just north of Mt. Pleasant Borough, has qualified for a $1,082,500 rural development loan to construct a new fire station.

Fire department president Lee Speer declined to release specifics of the construction plan because the fire company has not received formal notification that its loan application has been approved although the agency’s Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced Wednesday that project was among 41 low-interest loans totalling $291 million approved in 18 states. However, he confirmed firefighters were eagerly awaiting word on it.

“Portions of that building are more than 80 years old. The department’s been working on getting this for a couple of years now,” Speer said.

Hazlett said in a press release that the age and condition of the building and multiple drainage problems make it “too costly to renovate.”

The exterior of the structure reflects its age with bricks pushed into place in the walls and a portable toilet erected outside. Above the garage door bays housing the department fire trucks protecting the community of 11,153 residents it is painted with the department’s original name, Westmoreland Homesteads Volunteer Fire Department.

Westmoreland Homestead was founded in 1933 by the federal government as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Homestead Project. With 250 homes, the area — that was later renamed Norvelt — provided housing, work and a community environment to unemployed workers and their families during the Great Depression.

It was renamed “Norvelt” in 1937 in honor of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who personally visited the area to promote the program.

Speer noted that the construction loan will not impact the department’s adjacent Roosevelt Hall, a well-known social facility that boasts “the region’s largest wooden dance floor.”

The social hall hosts weddings, banquets, parties and the department’s popular Lenten fish fry.

While declining to release specifics of construction plans, Speer admitted that firefighters “will definitely be very happy about it because a lot of work went into it.”

“We’ve been working on this a very long time,” he said.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.

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