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An original La Vista firetruck is set to be restored

January 1, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Chris McMahon has a passion for La Vista history, and he’s doing his part to help preserve a piece of that history.

During the Dec. 4 La Vista City Council meeting, the council unanimously voted to transfer ownership of a 1972 Ward LaFrance firetruck to McMahon and his family.

McMahon’s father, Dennis, was an early fire chief at the La Vista Volunteer Fire Department and was chief when the department purchased the truck in 1973. It was the first new truck purchased by the department, the Omaha World-Herald reported .

The department started years earlier, but without equipment. LaVista’s first fire chief was Shorty Robb.

“This truck means so much to the history of our family,” McMahon said. “I’m so honored to have this truck donated to us.”

The truck originally was donated to the City of La Vista by Dr. Joel Janssen in 2017. Janssen purchased the truck at an auction. Janssen and his wife, Lynette, also donated Papillion’s original firetruck back to the city in 2017.

La Vista Mayor Doug Kindig said Janssen was consulted before the truck was donated to the McMahon family.

“He was the first call we made,” Kindig said. “We explained the situation and he was very supportive.”

The McMahon name runs deep in La Vista history. Chris’ grandfather, Kelly, was a homebuilder in the infant stages of La Vista in the early 1960s. Kelly McMahon Field is named after him.

Dennis McMahon died in 2006. In the years since, Chris has been collecting whatever pieces of fire department memorabilia he could get his hands on. But the biggest prize he’s had his eyes on was finding the original firetruck

When he heard that the truck was in town, Chris said he contacted Kindig and “he asked what I had in mind for the truck and he fell in love with the ideas I had.”

Through connections with friends and family members, Chris has plans to bring the truck as close to its original condition as possible. He said his major plan for the truck is to replace the original ladder that burned off years ago when it struck a power line.

Once restored, he plans on making the truck a focal point at events around the metro area, including the Salute to Summer and Papillion Days parades.

“This isn’t something that’s going to become a yard ornament,” he said. “We’re going to be involved in activities with the truck and giving back to the community.”

Chris said having possession of a piece of family history has seen a significant moment for him and his family.

Chris also plans to involve his own children, son Connor, 22, and daughter Emma, 21.

Chris said anyone interested in helping with the restoration process can contact him.

Kindig said it was a perfect fit for the McMahons to have the truck in their family.

“I think it’s found a great home,” Kindig said.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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