The new Williamsburg public safety complex, located at the former site of the Helen E. James School, will be celebrated at a grand opening celebration on June 9.

Reminder Publishing photo by Doc Pruyne

WILLIAMSBURG — The old Helen E. James School building came down last year and the new public safety building rose up during winter and spring, brand new and beautiful white, to take its place. Now, it’s time to celebrate and have fun.

The grand opening of Williamsburg’s new public safety complex is slated for Sunday, June 9. Fire Chief Jason Connell hopes to take you on a walking tour of the building. Then you can see what cost taxpayers $5.1 million.

“It has everything we need. The wish list was long, but obviously … we had to think about budgets,” Connell said. “It doesn’t have everything, but it’s an adequate building for the needs of the town and the departments that are working out of it.

The town was in dire need of a new safety complex. Connell said the main fire station was built in 1908. The town’s second fire station, that also housed the police department, was previously a bank. The bank was renovated for fire and police use way back in the 1960s or 1970s.

Celebration day will kick off at 8 a.m. when registrations open for the 5K road race and 1 mile fun walk. Pre-registration can also be made online, before race day at https://tinyurl.com/273fjfjp.

At noon, after the sirens go quiet, the new safety complex will be blessed and dedicated. Free grill food, hamburgers, hotdogs and drinks, will keep parents and kids fed while they play corn hole and basketball. Two bicycles, for younger and older riders, are to be raffled off. A bounce house will give the kids a chance to burn off a little energy.

Connell wants to see pictures on the driveway, or maybe messages to a firefighter or police officer.
“There’s going to be sidewalk chalk for the younger kids,” Connell said. “They can decorate in front of the apparatus bay and draw pictures of the fire station or the fire truck, or leave notes.”

The celebration of the new public safety complex will conclude with safety presentations by the Fire and Police departments, with handouts. But the celebration will also accomplish the important goal of alerting young people to the possibility of a career in fire and public safety. Connell said he and Police Chief Denise Wickland are always striving to attract people, especially now, when the public safety professions are drawing few recruits.

“Fire service is changing. It’s harder to be a volunteer. We know that from the training requirements,” Connell said. “We do have a great group in town and we hope to continue that. [But] the Police Department is the same way. The new reform stuff, they’re struggling to find people to come in and fill out their ranks, as well.”

The opening celebration of the new fire and public safety complex will begin at 8 a.m., June 9, at the corner of Route 9 and South Street.