Members of the public will be able to give their input on the possible annexation of the Judson Mead Geologic Field Station of Indiana University to the Harrison Fire District soon.
Harrison Fire District Board member Ed Armstrong presented a petition to annex the 60 acres of the field station as part of the Harrison Rural Fire District to the Board of Madison County Commissioners. Armstrong and Harrison Fire Chief Bert Starr expressed their approval of the annexation to the commissioners at their June 17 meeting. On the commissioners’ agenda for the past two weeks, the annexation would help make sure everyone is covered in cases of emergency and fire, according to Commissioner Chairman Jim Hart.
“It’s pretty simple,” Hart said of the annexation process. “It’s similar to when the Madison Valley Rural Fire Department and the Ennis Fire Department were combined.”
Hart added that the field station, which is located about 15 miles from Harrison and 11 miles from Cardwell in the Tobacco Root Mountains, ought to be part of the Harrison Fire District. The field station currently sits in an unassigned area. The fire district stretches north and south for about 27 miles along U. S. Highway 287 and Montana Secondary Highway 359, and extends a few miles past Pony, Harrison and Norris in each direction.
Annexation of the field station could likely increase the workload for the Harrison Fire Department, but Hart and others said they are not too worried due in part to mutual aid and assistance from neighboring fire districts.
Madison County improved the final three-mile segment of the road to the station in 1999 and nearby landowners have granted students and staff at the field station access to their fields, streams, hills and gullies for more than 60 years now. Many of the landowners’ sons and daughters have also worked in various positions at the field station throughout the years.