KENAI, Alaska — Former Kenai Mayor John Williams is leading an effort to restore a World War II-era Kenai Fire Department engine.
The City Council has already approved $10,000 in city funds for the project, or about one-third of its estimated cost. Councilors will meet this week to vote on allocating another $3,500 from the Anchorage-based Rasmuson Foundation to support the fire truck restoration, The Peninsula Clarion reported (http://bit.ly/2d3JMSd).
Williams said he plans to get the truck back in working order by fixing its pumps, tires, engine and chassis.
“We hope to put it in fine mechanical running condition, and I’m going to drive it in (a) parade,” Williams said.
The city of Kenai purchased the vehicle, which was built in 1941, for its volunteer fire department in the late 50s or early 60s. It was later donated to the village of Hope before it was found abandoned in the woods in Cooper Landing in 1994. At a council meeting that year, when Williams was in his second term as mayor, officials authorized a group to bring the truck back so the fire department could restore it. But that effort never came to fruition.
The fire truck has spent the past 20 years in a city shop yard, where Williams rediscovered it last year.
“Last fall in 2015 I was out there wandering around, and lo and behold, I spot this truck,” Williams said. “It was still laying out there in the yard. So I said to a couple of people, ‘what’s going on with this thing?’ They didn’t know. It had been there as long as some of them had.”
Williams decided to take up the project again and has already raised more than $14,000 for the effort. He has received donations from individuals as well as several businesses and organizations, including the Kenai Historical Society and the Elks, the Eagles and the Pioneers of Alaska.
“This is in remembrance of all those people who helped build the city and started the fire department and created what we have here,” Williams told councilors at a June meeting. “We don’t have enough of that.”
Information from: (Kenai, Alaska) Peninsula Clarion, http://www.peninsulaclarion.com