John was born in Nogales and was raised in; Sonoita, Elgin, Yellowstone, Big Bend, Tx. and Wasatch, Utah. In 1959 John’s Dad bought the old 160 acre Beatty Homestead (Circa 1910), now “The Everhart Ranch”.(1) In 1967 John went to and graduated from Northern Arizona University with a a degree in Industrial Arts Education. In the summer of 1971 he worked for a construction company in Sierra Vista. In 1975 he formed his own company called Everhart Construction Company, which was housed in what is now the Sonoita Feed Store on highway 82. Four years later he moved to his new location which is today Empire Homes. Everhart Construction built the Cactus Flower, now home of Cafe Sonoita, and was in the restaurant business for 14 months. In 1991 John and Bill Wolever built a neighborhood grocery store(2).
Who better to manage the final construction of the fire station then John Everhart. He had drawn up the complete plans in the beginning. Although most of John’s crew were volunteer firemen, they worked at the fire station MANY times – sometimes for no pay and sometimes they were payed out of John’s pocket. Helga Bowman had started a fund raiser in Chief Spencer’s time called BUY A BRICK for $ l.00 which was very successful. She made over $ 6,000. Many people gave bricks from their own construction. When you drive by, check out the variety of the bricks. The original building was 64 feet square. It consisted of radio room, two restrooms, kitchen, meeting room, and a big bay for the trucks and equipment. John says, “We had to get the building finished in order to work out of it.” Sept. 16, 1989 was OPEN HOUSE. What a day! When I asked John what he remembers most about that time he said,” Everyone pulled together!” And they truly did.
New Fire Station, New Fire Chief, New Era! Vehicles moved into the new fire station were an 1959 Chevrolet pumper, a jeep brush truck, an old Army duce and a half converted to a brush truck, an old Army 6 x 6 brush truck, and a 5000 gallon tender. The vehicles needed much repair work to get them in reliable working order. Parts were not available for the old Army equipment. Immediately John began to look for options to replace them. A U S West truck was bought at auction in Phoenix, and an old railroad maintenance truck with a crew cab and winch was purchased at a used auto lot in Tucson. These vehicles were converted to a brush truck and a brush truck/tender which allowed the old Army vehicles to be returned to the State. Mickey McArthur went “wheelin’ and dealin’” and was able to get a US West suburban donated, which the firemen converted into a rescue truck. Many people and organizations banned together to help move the department along. Mr. McWilliams, Santa Cruz County Emergency Services Coordinator, offered his help to the organization. Herb Hoey, Arizona State Assistant Fire Marshal gave a presentation to the department and donated a few turnouts. Leo Swatloski, an expert in radio communications, volunteered to manage the communications. In October of 1989 a Fire District was discussed, but was not considered feasible at the time. SEESI joined the Arizona Fire District Association. Ray Kunde, former Fire Chief at Fort Huachuca, volunteered to give fire prevention advice to homeowners upon request. The department began working with the Insurance Service Organization (ISO) in order to help reduce fire insurance rates in the area. Patagonia Fire Department was there to help when needed.
Training started up strong. When the new fire station went into business there were 12 Fire Fighters with 75% fire fighting experience and 5 Emt’s fully certified. Wild Land Training and Fire Fighting Rescue I and II were held in Tucson, Sierra Vista and Huachuca City Fire Dept. Dorothy Mendoza from Patagonia Fire Department and an instructor from Tubac Fire Department came here to teach a 1st responder course. Terry and Lisa Sink helped our EMT’s and rescue efforts during this time. Terry Sink was an IEMT later to become a Paramedic. We were and are a rescue unit only – cannot transport. TMC was our base hospital. Page Outs came from Nogales.
Helga Bowman started the ladies group, later to be called SEE Ladies, 1 Jan. 1990. They did rummage sales, dinners for different groups, catered affairs, monthly luncheons, and many other fund raisers.
This was a really wonderful time, and Chief Everhart was the biggest part of it all. Thanks John! You gave this community, your heart, your time, your generosity and, as always, your faithful friendship.
(1) South to the end of Papago Springs Road
(2) Now the old Texaco Station on highway 82
Chief Everhart was able to finish the Fire Station with the kind donations from:
Dick Berg of Sierra Vista for all ductwork.
Bob Bowman for 250 gal. propane gas tank.
Bill Wolever for all supplies and instillation of all electrical work.
MANY THANKS !