By Bob Balgemann


BELVIDERE – Old Fire Engine No. I was purchased brand new and before being retired, it served as the Belvidere Fire Department’s front line engine for many years. Now it’s coming home again.

Fire Chief Al Hyser received permission from the city council Monday, May 16, in a 9-0 vote with one absent, to reacquire the 1956 Mack engine at a cost of $4,000. It recently was discovered to be at a fire memorabilia collector’s barn in Caledonia.

One week earlier he received a positive recommendation from the Committee of the Whole.

Chief Hyser said Engine No. I would be used for display, parades, and other public relations events. It would be stored in the vacant Leath building.

Alderman Clint Morris asked if Engine No. I was operable and was told by the chief that it was, though it is in need of some repairs.

Morris also wondered about the condition of the Leath building.

“The roof leaked and I opposed repairing it because that would have cost $25,000,” Chief Hyser said.

In a follow-up interview May 16, Chief Hyser said the part of the building where the engine would be stored is structurally sound. The city’s public works department has vehicles in there and it also is used by the police department for storage.

The memorabilia barn is owned by two firefighters, who happen to be father and son. The father was a lieutenant in the Chicago Fire Department with the son having worked at the suburban Harvey department.

Hyser said he asked Belvidere firefighters about acquiring the old engine and most were supportive.

“We don’t get many opportunities like this,” he said. “I look at this as a morale booster.”

ATM machine at city hall

Also May 16, the council in a 7-2 vote, with Aldermen Clint Morris and Clayton Stevens dissenting, approved placing an ATM machine in the lobby at city hall as a convenience for customers.

The fact that it will be an Alpine Bank ATM elicited concern from several aldermen.

Morris questioned whether the city wanted to be in the position of having one particular vendor’s equipment on its property.

Budget and Finance Director Becky Tobin said the ATM at the public safety building also belonged to Alpine Bank.

“At some point, we hope to be able to accept credit cards,” she said. “I don’t think we’re there yet.”

However, Morris said putting an Alpine Bank ATM in city hall “could present issues about us being biased and marketing for a particular business. But, that’s just me.”

Alderman Tom Ratcliffe suggested having ATM inscribed on the machine, without the business name.

“We can check into that, certainly,” Public Works Director Brent Anderson said. He added that the ATM information screen likely would have writing on it that specifies Alpine Bank.

Earlier, he said a customer, after being told he could not use a credit card to pay a city bill, stated it would be nice if the city had an ATM in the lobby. He said that quite often customers will ask for the location of the nearest ATM, leave and then return a short time with cash to pay the bill.

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