GOWANDA - The Gowanda Volunteer Fire Department and Auxiliary is calling upon local residents and businesses to be a part of history.
A groundbreaking ceremony held Saturday in front of the original fire bell in front of the fire department officially kicked off the department's "Buy a Brick Campaign" for a brick Firemen's Memorial Walkway. The new memorial will encircle the old bell and will honor past firefighters, friends and loved ones.
"The president of the fire department wanted us to come up with an opportunity for us to make money and do something nice for the community," Memorial Committee Chairman Gordon Ackler said when asked how the idea of building a memorial walkway came to fruition. "With the walkway, we're going all the way back to 1884 and hopefully get every past firefighter a brick."
OBSERVER Photo by Greg Fox
A groundbreaking ceremony held Saturday officially kicked off the Gowanda Fire Department’s “Buy a Brick Campaign” for a Firemen’s Memorial Walkway to encircle the original fire bell out front. Pictured, from left: State Sen. Cathy Young, Fire Department President Pete Johnson, Memorial Committee member and past president Bob Coudrey, Fire Commissioner Paul Zimmermann, Persia Town Councilman and committee member John Walgus, Committee Chairman Gordon Ackler and Assemblyman Joe Giglio.
OBSERVER Photo by Greg Fox
Pictured is a drawing of what the brick Firemen’s Memorial Walkway will look like around the old fire bell.
Various area officials were present for the ceremony, including Gowanda Mayor Heather McKeever, state Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, state Assemblyman Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, and Persia Town Councilman and committee member John Walgus.
"I believe this is a fitting tribute to the firefighters and the volunteer service we have here in this community," Young said. "It's a way to honor and recognize not only the service and sacrifices of people who came before you in the fire department, but also the people that really rolled up their sleeves and helped so much when the community was at its lowest point (during the 2009 flood). It's all because of the volunteer spirit that you have here in this department."
Along with the new walkway, the bell will be cleaned and restored, with all the lettering on it highlighted, according to Ackler.
"The bell was put up in 1884 right around the time the fire department first came to be," he said. "It's from the original fire department before its move to the new building (on Aldrich Street)."
Ackler thanked his fellow committee members, Giglio, Young, Fire Department President Pete Johnson, the Persia Town Board, the Gowanda Village Board and everyone else involved in the project for all their support for the fundraising campaign.
Bricks for the walkway are 4-by-8 and 8-by-8 inches in size and cost $40 and $50, respectively. Logos may be laser-engraved on a brick, along with the customized lettering.
Checks for sponsored bricks may be made payable to the Gowanda Fire Department in care of Gordon Ackler, 15318 Ames Court, Gowanda, NY 14070.
Contact Ackler at 949-5779 or Bob Coudrey at 532-9502 for more information.
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