Lemolo history falls with a bang

LEMOLO — A chapter in the history of Kitsap County and Fred Hill Materials came to a close Thursday afternoon as the company’s first concrete mixing plant was torn down.

Actually, it was pushed over as the large mechanical arms of two excavators forced the enormous structure to the ground and into a heaping pile of sand, gravel concrete, dirt and steel.

The concrete hopper was used to mix sand, concrete powder, water and gravel from the 1950s through the 1970s and could create nearly two tons of concrete in a single batch, said project manager Dan Baskins.

The company decided to tear the plant down because it was becoming unsafe and was long overdue for demolition, Baskins added.

Fred Hill Materials started in 1946 as a simple concrete business and expanded as quickly as Kitsap County did. The company helped construct the Agate Pass Bridge and what is now Subase Bangor.

Bob Nordes, a Fred Hill employee and Poulsbo native, used to deliver gas, diesel and such products to the site 34 years ago.

“That plant there was probably the beginning of Kitsap County,” Nordes said, noting the company’s headquarters had everything on the site, from the concrete hopper to a maintenance shop for trucks.

In the late 1970s, Fred Hill Materials shut down the Lemolo plant and built a new one on Totten Road. Even so, the office headquarters remained at the original site before moving to Totten Road in 2000, Baskins said.

The little building on the Lemolo property remained open as a dispatch office for dirt and gravel and septic tank equipment until recently.

“So, if a guy needed some sand or gravel, they could buy it there,” Baskins said.

But, no longer.

After the steel structure and concrete walls that were used to support the plant are hauled away for recycling, the building will be remodeled for a new business office, Baskins said. The company, in its third generation of Hill owners, will retain the upper portion of the property for storage of the earth materials, such as crushed rock and boulders.

“There are only four of us left in the company that hauled concrete away (from this site),” said Steve Schenck, who was overseeing the actual demolition. “It’s a little bit of history going down for the county.”

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