Medary, La Crosse reach long-term deal for fire support

In the past, the town of Medary has relied on the city of Onalaska to provide fire, and emergency services to their town.

But in recent years, the town has used services from the City of La Crosse’s fire department on a short term basis.

Now, they’re looking at a long term commitment with the city.

From hills to neighborhoods, to farms, the town of Medary can have a different look, depending on where you are.

The town also has heavily varying borders. With some land surrounded by both Onalaska and La Crosse.

“It can be a challenge for first responders to decide who to send,” said Supervisor #1 for Medary’s town board Steve Elsen.

The town’s size and location leaves them dependent on nearby cities for fire protection, and earlier, the town board reached an agreement with the City of La Crosse.

“We can’t find protection like that anywhere else in the area,” added Elsen.

“Ultimately, we secured a 30-year deal with the town and it’s a win-win for both communities,” said La Crosse Fire Chief Ken Gilliam.

In the agreement, The town will cover 4.5% of La Crosse’s fire costs.

“Our cost for fire services last year was about $10 million. So 4.5% of that is about $450,000,” estimated Mayor Tim Kabat.

Medary will work their way up to paying that. They’ll start at 10% of that figure, and slowly increase until year 20, when they pay the full amount.

“A large chunk of that money, most of it is going to a separate account for fire station planning,” said Kabat.

The city hopes to build a joint fire station years down the road near Medary.

“If there is a decision to build a joint Medary, La Crosse, and hopefully Onalaska fire station we would have the money to do that,” said Mayor Kabat.

“I’m really hopeful now that we got the contract done that we can engage the city of Onalaska and potentially another partnership up there,” added Gilliam.

But until then, Medary town board is happy it’s secured fire safety for the foreseeable future.

“The town and residents are going to be better off for it,” said Elsen.

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