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May 05. 2013 10:14PM

Hopkinton's new DPW garage finally rising from ashes of old barn

HOPKINTON - A tough year for the town's Highway Department and Board of Selectmen has come to an end with the start of construction of a new highway garage to replace the barn that burned last June.

"Last June 25, [Selectman Jim O'Brien] and I stood and watched that building go up in flames," said Selectman George Langwasser during a ground-breaking ceremony on Friday morning. "Gosh it's awfully good to see that new building going up. The town is going to get a wonderful, wonderful building "

On that night in June, a public works truck parked beside the 1970s-era wooden barn that housed the department's equipment, caught fire and exploded, setting another truck and the building ablaze. The building could not be saved, but DPW workers and firefighters moved equipment out of the building as it burned.

Employees were forced to work out of temporary quarters.

But the biggest blow came when the town learned that Local Government Center's risk pool wasn't going to cover the appraised $1 million value of the building and would pay only around two-thirds of that value.

By Town Meeting in March, LGC and Hopkinton had agreed on a $790,000 settlement and voters agreed to borrow the remaining sum so that a new $1.3 million facility could be constructed.

On Friday, as residents officials and the DPW staff gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony, cement trucks arrived to pour the first of the footings.

"The past year has been a challenge," said O'Brien. "I really want to thank the highway crew, who really stepped up. It's been awkward to do their job from multiple locations but they did it."

The new building is expected to be completed by October, and O'Brien said it's a building that "will meet the town's needs for years to come."

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