Assemblyman Dan Stec, Congressman Bill Owens, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Betty Little, Keene Supervisor Bill Ferebee, Keene Volunteer Fire Department Board of Commissioners Chairman Alan Carey and Chief Jody Whitney cut the ribbon to the new firehose June 29.
Almost two years after the Keene Volunteer Fire Department’s home was partially swept away by the raging waters of Tropical Storm Irene, firefighters officially opened their new home Saturday, June 29.
For the fifth time since the Aug. 28 storm swept through the North Country, Gov. Andrew Cuomo returned to Keene, this time to celebrate a physical and emotional landmark occasion for firefighters and town residents.
“When I was here right after the storm, we said that we were not just going to rebuild, but we are going to build back and better than ever before,” Cuomo said. “As we stand in this building, it is the physical manifestation that you accomplished exactly what you said you were going to do.”
Cuomo also spoke to the resolve of the Keene community and many others who continue to rebuild in the wake of severe storms.
“Maybe we wish we did not go through the test, but we do not get to pick the tests that we have to go through in this life,” he said. “Coming out better than you were, that is what Keene has done and this is an inspiration to me.”
Cuomo also commended Keene Supervisor Bill Ferebee for his work immediately after the storm and getting recovery projects under way.
“When people needed a friend, a leader and someone to look up to, that was Bill Ferebee, and we all owe him a great debt of gratitude,” Cuomo said.
“Today we are celebrating a milestone in our recovery from Irene,” Ferebee said. “The governor and his team have gone above and beyond with $825,200 in state aid to get this firehouse built. We are grateful to him and his staff.”
“(Cuomo) has taken unprecedented steps to make sure that these communities could recover,” state Assemblyman Dan Stec said. “His commitment to our communities to help us out when we needed it the most is something that should be commended.”
“As we all sit in here, I am sure that we still have images in our head from that storm,” state Sen. Betty Little said. “I am very proud that we have had the governor here to help us through that time. This is a great firehouse that is very appropriate, very well done and a place that will serve the community well for many years to come.”
“We have all been working together comprehensively to deliver to our constituents, and that is the kind of thing that you should demand from us in the future,” Congressman Bill Owens said.
Members of the department also expressed their gratitude for the new facility.
“It is with great pride and satisfaction that I am here to help celebrate the opening of this new building,” Chairman of the Keene Fire Commissioners Alan Carey said.
“I am very ecstatic that this day has arrived,” Chief Jody Whitney said. “It has been a lot of hard work and the hard work has paid off in this fantastic building that would not have been possible without the assistance of so many, including the state and Gov. Cuomo.”