Monday’s dedication ceremony for the city of Kinston’s newest fire station at Hill Farm Road included city officials, members of the design and construction team — and special guests, members of the Eighth Masonic District.
At least 16 members of Masonic lodges in Lenoir and Greene counties, dressed in black suits, white gloves and ceremonial aprons, conducted a ceremony to bless the cornerstone of Fire Station No. 3.
They were joined by about seven female members of the local Order of the Eastern Star, who were wearing bright white dresses.
“This cornerstone, we may lay in accordance with our laws, and we are glad to do so,” said Lynwood E. Grady, past master of King David Lodge No. 24 of Kinston, who led the cornerstone ceremony.
The cornerstone was a plaque on the front wall of the fire station, which bore the names of Kinston’s current City Council members, mayor, city manager and more.
There were glasses of oil, cement powder, corn and wine, and Masons used ceremonial measuring tools to declare the cornerstone “plumb, level and square.”
The local Masons had blessed the cornerstone of Kinston’s main fire station on East Vernon Avenue, during its opening ceremony in 2008, and Kinston Department of Public Safety Director Bill Johnson invited them to take part in Monday’s ceremony.
“One of the things that comes under their umbrella is community involvement,” Johnson said.
Freemasons are members of a fraternal order that has its roots in ancient times, with the stone masons of old. Masons are often community leaders, including a number of U.S. presidents; Founding Fathers such as Benjamin Franklin and George Washington were Masons.
Johnnie Dixon, grand master of the Eighth Masonic District, said local Masons are available for other building dedications.
Fire Station No. 3 is one of two fire stations to open in Kinston this year. Fire Station No. 2, off Carey Road, was built at the same time as its sister station of Hill Farm Road, and opened this summer.
Johnson said Monday’s ceremony would be sufficient for both stations.
The facilities were built with $2.8 million in USDA Rural Development loans and grants to replace aging Kinston fire stations and to provide better coverage for the Global TransPark via the Carey Road Station and the growing U.S. 70 West Industrial Park via the Hill Farm Road station.
Johnson said the KDPS will receive “pre-emption devices” for its fire trucks as part of the city’s agreement with the N.C. Department of Transportation to close all four lanes of the Queen Street Bridge as it is replaced in the coming years, and downtown traffic is detoured through Skinner’s Bypass at U.S. 70 and N.C. 11.
The devices will allow emergency responders to change traffic signals from green to red, allowing them to get to fire scenes quicker.
“We needed a quick way to respond,” Johnson said.
Assistant Fire Chief Don Crawford honored the many city officials, past and present, who had helped make the new fire stations a reality, and presented plaques to four people who had been “instrumental in project development and project implementation, and completion of the project.”
They included Glenn Smith, vice president of Fasco Inc. of Kinston, the general contractor; Jimmy Edwards, project manager with Davis Kane Architects of Raleigh; Kimberly Miller of the USDA, who acted as a liaison between the city and the USDA; and Marilyn Dunk, administrative manager for the KDPS.
“These four represented a lot of effort, a lot of work,” Crawford said.
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