New emergency services building better fit for community

January 9, 2024

City of White builds facility with HELP from Heartland Energy

Interior and exterior work continues on a new building taking shape on Main Street in White, South Dakota. Upon completion, the facility will house local emergency preparedness, planning and response services.

The city partnered with its wholesale electric power provider, Heartland Energy, to pursue the project. Heartland awarded $405,000 in financing and grants towards the building’s construction and equipment.


Outdated facility not meeting needs

The city first recognized their need for a new facility back in 2019. The existing emergency services building was built in 1973 and showing signs of age.

Size was also an issue. At just 2,400 square feet, the building was enveloped from within as emergency vehicles were replaced with larger models and more tools and equipment lined the walls.

Mayor Scott Gladis said it was difficult to host meetings or training sessions in the makeshift meeting room and kitchen.

The city formed a committee with representatives from the fire department, ambulance service and city council. Their goal: develop a plan that would meet current needs as well as accommodate future growth in the city and surrounding area.


New building offers room to grow

Officials broke ground on the Emergency Services building July 1. The new facility is nearly triple in size at 6,300 square feet.

It will serve as headquarters for White’s 25-member volunteer fire department and 11-member ambulance service. It will also house the city’s ambulance and fire trucks.

In addition to garage and storage, the building features a 600 square-foot meeting and education room plus a kitchen, two bathrooms and utility room.

“The meeting room will be used for training our EMS personnel as well as educational opportunities,” said Gladis. “We can use it to instruct citizens and children on fire and electrical safety, drugs and alcohol use and more.”

Construction on the building progressed through the late summer and fall of 2023. Photos courtesy Sandy Skogen-McClure and the Tri-City Star.
Progress of the facility as of December 18, 2023.

Public-private partnership is key

Gladis said the partnership with Heartland Energy was a vital piece of the puzzle in completing this project.

“It is so important to have a public power provider like Heartland to provide amazing resources,” Gladis said. “We want to thank them for what they do.”

Heartland provides wholesale electric power to White and other municipalities in South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska. Its customer service suite includes economic development programs designed to bolster growth in its customer communities.

The Heartland Economic development Loan Program, or HELP Fund, offers low-interest financing with favorable terms to help qualifying projects reach fruition. Economic development grants support projects which spark growth and development or help utilities best serve their customers.

White received HELP Fund financing towards the construction of the building. It was also awarded an economic development grant towards the purchase of an onsite generator.

“The generator will be able to power the building for up to three days before refueling is needed. It allows us to dual purpose the building as a local emergency shelter,” said Gladis.

Heartland Energy Director of Economic Development Casey Crabtree presents a check to officials with the city of White towards a new emergency services building. Pictured, from left to right: Assistant Fire Chief Cory Byers, Finance Officer Rachel Byers, Fire Chief Trever Schwartz, Crabtree, fireman Dylan Schwartz, Councilman Chris Haines, Mayor Scott Gladis, ambulance personnel Cheri Selleck, Councilman Matt Lagerstrom, ambulance personnel Tammy Byers, ambulance personnel and fireman Russ Larson, and ambulance personnel Lori Colberg.

Community involvement

Construction is expected to be complete in January of 2024.

The project has been a testament to the power of community with citizens stepping up in a variety of ways to help.

Community members are looking forward to seeing the finished project after viewing its progress for several months.

“Quality of life is an important aspect of economic development,” said Heartland Energy Director of Economic Development Casey Crabtree. “This new building will serve the community for years to come, provide essential services and much needed space. We are proud to help the community of White make this a reality.”