HAWTHORNE – Alachua County will be completing a transition that started years ago in the City of Hawthorne, which could help lower insurance rates for homeowners in the city.

The county took over the fire and rescue services for the City of Hawthorne in 2008, but remained in a station located outside city limits. Now the department is making a move into the city’s station.

In 2005 Hawthorne started its own fire department, after years of the county department serving the city’s needs. This change relocated Alachua County Fire Rescue to Grove Park and outside of the city. However, the city’s fire department had started just as the economy started to take a dip, and quickly became expensive.

“With revenues decreasing in 2008 the decision to disband city fire and police departments was made by the city,” said Ellen Vause, Hawthorne’s city manager. “It was unfortunate that the downturn of the economy coincided with the city starting its own fire department. The building has been empty since that time.”

Having the fire department back in the city station could be a good move for several reasons. First is the increased safety of having response time cut down with the location. Also, homeowners insurance will be cheaper for most residents because of the proximity of the location.

“The rates and insurance are based completely on a protection class that you fall into, and location is factored into that,” said Donna Boles, an agent with Hawthorne Insurance Agency Inc. “Previously some residents couldn’t even get a protection class that agencies would work with. Now it will be easier and cheaper for most clients.”

This deal has been several years in the making with the city and the county and everything is still in the planning stages as far as when the move will take place. It is already decided that the county will be funding all the renovations needed to the city’s station when the department moves in.

“This is a good move for Hawthorne and its residents. It will be safer and not to mention eliminate problem protection classes,” said Boles. “This gets me back into the game with many clients.”

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