Ottawa approves study for 3rd fire station location, swears in K-9 cop

Illinois Fire Chief Association to evaluate volume of calls, locations

The Ottawa City Council on Tuesday authorized the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association to analyze the city and find the best possible location for a third fire station.

For IFCA Consulting Services to find the right location is “step one,” Public Health and Safety Commissioner Tom Ganiere said.

“There are many factors to be considered,” Ganiere said. “The IFCA will study the whole city, incorporate the call volume, where the calls are from and the response times from the current stations to there and to possibly a third station – and the railroad tracks will go into it, too – in order to determine the best location to meet standards for response time.”

The city now has stations located at 301 W. Lafayette St., not far from downtown, and another on State Street on the South Side.

Ganiere said a study done “years and years ago” said the best location for a station on the north side was somewhere near Route 23 and Interstate 80. The addition of Heritage Harbor, however, to the fire protection district will probably move that possible spot further east.

He added the hospital closures in the area might not be a factor considered right now, but that may come up soon. Peru’s hospital closed Jan. 28 and Spring Valley’s hospital is set to close June 16. OSF Health, however, has entered into a purchase agreement for the Peru facility.

“The hospitals are what they are and there’s not much we can do about that, unfortunately,” Ganiere said. “We don’t own the hospitals … It’s unfortunate that we have these closures, it will probably increase response times, not from the station to the public, but from the public to the hospital. If [an ambulance] here got diverted to the closest hospital, that would be Morris and that’s another half hour.

“Hopefully, that doesn’t happen, but I think it might be coming.”

The council also approved a proposal from Liebhart Construction to expand the Ottawa Police Department’s not-drug-related long-term evidence storage area.

Police Chief Brent Roalson said the room has already been expanded twice and estimated its size now to be roughly the size of three single-car garages, but will be expanded to the size of a fourth garage. To have that room, the police will take out a few old cells the department no longer needs because it no longer keeps prisoners overnight.

He said a factor in needing more space is changes to the statutes now require police to hang on to evidence for a longer time.

Roalson also was on hand when Musky, a 17-month old black Labrador retriever, was sworn in by Mayor Robert Hasty to be the OPD’s new K-9 officer. Now Musky has passed all state certifications, he will be working primarily with K-9 handler Brandon Anderson. Musky will succeed Gussie, who was retired and then died.

“Musky’s quite the handful,” Roalson said with a smile. “We look forward to him being on the road.”

In other action, the council:

Heard Hasty read into the record a proclamation citing Family Pride Month and designating June 10 as Pride Day in Ottawa.

Approved quotes from several businesses regarding the purchase of vehicles for the city: two Exmark mowers, two snow plows, a 2023 Ford F-550 truck with a snow package and a Bobcat compact track loader.

Authorized and agreement to have J & M Displays conduct the Independence Day fireworks.

Passed an amendment to the Municipal Code prohibiting the keeping of roosters within city limits.