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Merck donates funding for new fire department facility

Albany Fire Department Chief James Carswell and Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard accept a $100,000 check from Merck company. Plans call for the money to go toward a central maintenance-supply building for the fire company. (Dec. 13, 2012)

Albany Fire Department Chief James Carswell and Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard accept a $100,000 check from Merck company. Plans call for the money to go toward a central maintenance-supply building for the fire company. (Dec. 13, 2012)

ALBANY, Ga. -- Planning to centralize maintenance and supply operations in a new building, the Albany Fire Department accepted a $100,000 check for construction from the Merck & Co. Thursday.

Merck previously operated a plant in Albany and continues to support the community, said Nancy Valaika, director of global facilities management for the chemical company.

"Merck has always had a good relationship with the Albany Fire Department," Valaika said. "We wanted to assist with their growth and development."

Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard accepted the check on behalf of the city. "This allows us to do much more for the people and the safety of the city," Hubbard said. "Merck has always been a community partner. I'll accept this as a Christmas present for the city."

Hubbard quickly passed the Christmas check to Fire Chief James Carswell in front of the planned building site on the fire department's training area at 115 Honeysuckle Drive.

Carswell said the cost of the 17,000-square-foot building could reach to $250,000 and bid requests would probably go out in February. The Merck check made a significant contribution, he added.

"The people here have always been good to us with (Special Option Local Sales) tax money," Carswell said. "This will also help us with maintenance of our equipment."

Plans call for the new fabricated steel-structure maintenance-supply building to keep supplies in a central location for more efficient distribution, Carswell said. It will also serve as a central maintenance plant.

Merck closed its Albany plant in 2007. Unable to find a buyer, the company razed it in March 2011.

Carswell said the company was going to donate a building from the old plant, but after costs were considered, the decision was made to donate the money instead.

"This way we can get exactly what we need," Carswell said. "We can arrange it to our needs."