MOUNT OLIVE —Two veteran members of the former Mount Olive Rescue Squad used in the service of others are now in need of rescue.
They need a home or the town stands to lose an important part of its heritage, said Ken Dilda, a founding member of the Mount Olive Area Historical Society and director of the David John Aaron Teaching Museum.
To help ensure that doesn’t happen, Dilda and Joseph Arnette, with the volunteer Mount Olive Emergency Services, are asking for the public’s help in finding a home for the two veterans — a 1959 rescue and recovery vehicle and a 1960 ambulance.
Arnette said the volunteer organization, which no longer operates because it lacks the equipment and insurance, is willing to donate the vehicles to the Historical Society, if it agrees to store them inside.
Both are currently housed in the former rescue building on North Center Street.
Wayne County EMS has stationed one of its units at the town-owned building for the past several years, but is in the process of building a new station on Northeast Church Road, just north of town.
Once completed, the county unit will be moved.
The old trucks will have to be moved, since the town plans to convert the rescue building into the new home for its parks and recreation department.
The bay area will be used for storage for the fire department.
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“They are going to be removed from the current building, and they have no home,” Dilda said. “So the first need is to find a place to store them. The second need is to restore. It would be ideal to have one or both vehicles available for parades and other functions, like Old 75 (firetruck) is for the fire department.
“They are just too important to the history of Mount Olive and the rescue squad to see them not be preserved and restored and, hopefully, used in some capacity. What would be ideal is if a group or individual would take on the responsibility of storing and, possibly, generating the funds to get one of them operational.”
Rescuing the trucks is not an official project of the Mount Olive Area Historical Society, Dilda said.
Dilda said he was at the building recently collecting old photos and plaques for the museum when he heard Arnette mention that the vehicles have to be moved.
“Based on that, I decided that it was time for somebody to try and do something,” he said.
Dilda said he does not know if the Historical Society has the resources to take on the project, however, he expects it will be discussed when it next meets.
“We would certainly be a part of the process,” Dilda said. “It would be ideal if some former rescue members would spearhead the movement. I would hope others would be willing to support the effort. So, first storage and then restoration.
“We talked about selling them,” Arnette said. “We prefer to keep them in town because of the history. We want to keep them inside a building so that they won’t rust because they have always been kept inside, so we don’t want them to be put outside in the weather.”
“We are hoping somebody will come forward with a space,” Dilda said. “So, hopefully, somebody will come forward with storage.”
Anyone willing to temporarily store the trucks should contact Arnette at 919-738-5202.
There is not yet a cost estimate for the renovation project, Mayor Joe Scott said.
The timeline depends on when the county completes its new EMS station and work can be done to the old rescue building, he said.
“The first date was March for the EMS move, but the weather has not been cooperative so they have not been able to move forward,” Scott said.
Scott said he has been unable to contact Wayne County Facilities Director Kendall Lee for an update as to when the building will be ready.
That is why the emergency squad has been asked to move the trucks, he said.
“They own them,” Scott said. “The town does not own those trucks. They were titled over to them back some time ago. We just let them stay there for right now, even though it is a liability for us because we are not supposed to house anything on town property that is not town property.
“We have been very generous in letting them keep them there, but as time has gone on, we have looked at the situation and we just feel like we have got to have more room.”
The building is convenient for the fire department since the fire station is just a short distance south of the rescue building, he said. The town does not have any space where the two trucks could be stored, even temporarily, Scott said.
“I think if they get out and advertise, they will find somebody who will let them store them,” he said. “Our problem is we have no room for anything.”