AMORY – Dirt work recently started for a center to not only compliment the firefighter training facility alongside Waterway Drive but also promote health among city employees.

“The building will house a fitness center and a training classroom. It will be a place of our own,” said Amory Fire Chief Zack McGonagill.

The Amory Fire Department is among the beneficiaries of a Healthy Heroes grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation originally secured late last year, thanks to the efforts of Amory City Clerk Jamie Morgan. The exercise facility for city employees will help promote fitness and exercise across all city departments.

Firefighters, not just from Amory but from throughout the county, have been using shared spaces at various fire stations and community centers for developing professional skills ranging from cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to map reading. The training compliments emergency rescue procedures involving climbing ladders and navigating fire scenes at the existing training center named for former Amory Fire Chief Jimmy Bost.

Since the Healthy Heroes grant was secured, the timeline has been encumbered with weather delays associated with an unusually wet and stormy spring season. Site work has progressed ahead of the building components arriving.

While this project is primarily funded by the grant, McGonagill is grateful for help received from the Monroe County Board of Supervisors.

“The county provided a new air compressor for us to use. It is a $45,000 piece of equipment that will help us get air tanks filled in much shorter time,” he said.

According to Morgan, the construction, itself, is being accomplished though in-kind partnerships between contractors and city employees. A completion date on the center is not known. The extra time necessary was deemed a suitable trade for the savings realized to bring the project about.

“We have some very talented people,” Morgan said.

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