Franklin — The city's main firehouse may have lost a kitchen makeover contest entered early this year, but a local cabinetmaker has rekindled the project.
If all goes as planned, the remodel will be completed before the end of the year and cost taxpayers about $17,500, a savings of about $50,000, said one fire official.
The Common Council on Aug. 20 approved the city's financial commitment.
John Hoppe is donating the cabinets and granite countertops as well as other materials. He also is helping link the Fire Department to other donated resources so they can completely finish off the ceiling, walls and flooring that would go along with the entire update.
Hoppe saw the IKEA-sponsored contest unfold with Franklin eventually showing a strong second-place finish to a Minnesota-based homeless shelter. He said it was time to give back to his community.
"I know they received 50,000 votes," Hoppe said. "I felt bad that they did not win. This kind of goes full circle."
For Hoppe, completing the circle is a natural step after he and his family completed the Franklin Citizen Police Academy two years ago and experienced a greater appreciation for police officers and firefighters.
"It was a great experience," Hoppe said. "Also, we have gone through this recession and came out of it OK. I like to think that I give back to my community. It was my turn, my time in life to do that."
Hoppe is not just donating materials.
"We have worked with the department to help plan the remodel, including the style of cabinets they want and need as well as seeing what other materials they need," Hoppe said. Though several handy firefighters have committed their time to install the cabinets, Hoppe said he would be on site to assist.
The donated materials and labor are a welcome gift, said Battalion Chief Ron Mayer, who had coordinated the department's two campaigns to get the IKEA prize.
Mayer said coming in second was an improvement, but did not fulfill the need.
"We did not get in the final five last year," Mayer said. "We worked harder on the application this time."
The IKEA makeover is meant as a way to give back to worthy groups. Entries must explain in no more than 500 words how the renovation will benefit the community.
Mayer said the makeover is sorely needed, for the kitchen, installed in 1989, is "probably the worst part of the station. The laminate cabinets and appliances are in rough shape. The stove is about 12 years old and the refrigerator died a couple of times. The wallpaper is dated and dirty."
The kitchen not only serves a 24/7 operation of firefighters, it also is made available to nonprofits. The department has used the facility for its own fundraisers, such as a spaghetti dinner to fund a local burn camp.
While Getting the IKEA funds would have been great, Mayer said, he is happier that the department can collaborate with a local artisan.
"After we lost, it was disappointing," Mayer said. "This changes the whole atmosphere. We are hoping to have the cabinets in before the end of October and the rest of the improvements done before the end of the year. It would make a great Christmas present."
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