Topeka gets $99,000 grant for fire truck

Published 5:00 am Sunday, August 29, 2004

MONTICELLO – The Topeka Volunteer Fire Department will bereceiving a new fire truck in six to seven months thanks to a$99,000 grant it received Friday morning.

Nick Walters, state director of the U.S. Department ofAgriculture Rural Development Association, presented the check tofire department volunteers in a brief ceremony also attended bylocal officials and residents.

The money will be used to purchase a new fire truck for thedepartment, said Topeka VFD Chief Royce Renfroe.

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“I think it’s going to be a tremendous help to the whole area,”said District Three Supervisor Calvin Rutland. “Our main goal is tohave better fire protection and lower the fire rating.”

The grant was a joint effort that included support from countysupervisors, Third District U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering and the USDAwith assistance from others, said Lawrence County Fire CoordinatorRobert Patterson.

“It was a big ordeal doing this grant,” he said. “Everyone hadto work together to get it done, and I appreciate that.”

The grant originates with the Community Facilities Program,Walters said, adding the county was fortunate to receive it.

“This is extra above and beyond money other states didn’t use,”he said. “We had already used all of our grant money.”

County officials hope a second grant filed through the RuralFirefighters Assistance Grant will provide the rest of the fundingfor the new fire truck. If approved, that grant would give thecounty another $50,000 to apply to the truck.

“With both grants, the truck shouldn’t cost the county a dime,”Patterson said.

Even without the second grant, Rutland said, the fire departmentcan afford to purchase the new truck because of new funding througha 1 mill tax assessment set aside for volunteer fire departments afew months ago.

The county is still awaiting word on the Rural FirefightersAssistance Grant, the supervisor said, but he expects the board ofsupervisors to let bids on the new truck at their Sept. 7meeting.

It normally takes six to seven months to complete a fire truckonce the bids are let because each truck is customized to the needsof the department, Patterson said.