City to consider grant for SFD fitness equipment and walking track

Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

The Starkville Board of Alderman will vote tonight on a $44,647 grant from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi that could provide major health and wellness benefits to local firefighters.

The city would use the grant to purchase fitness equipment for the Starkville Fire Department and to fund a public walking track at Fire Station 2. If accepted, the grant would not require additional city funds.

Fire Chief Charles Yarbrough said, if approved, the grant would be the first fitness and health grant the fire department has received.

“I think it would be a very significant purchase for the firefighters,” Yarbrough said. “They have to have equipment.”

Although the Starkville Fire Department provides firefighters a membership with the OCH Wellness Connection, the firefighters must leave the station for adequate exercise.

“If we have all the equipment we need at the fire department, the guys could actually come on ship, or while they’re at the station, and work out together,” Yarbrough explained.

To maintain physical fitness, Starkville’s firefighters are required to to complete one hour of daily exercise as well as pass a fitness test twice a year. Currently, the firefighters block off Airport Road for their biyearly fitness test. A walking track at Fire Station 2 would allow a safer alternative to perform those fitness tests.

The track would also be open to public use, aiding the health of Starkville’s firefighters and the rest of the community year-round. With the proper lighting and openness, Yarbrough believes the track would be a safe place for the public to exercise.

If the grant is approved, Yarbrough expects the walking track to be completed by Sept. 30.

“We would like to thank Blue Cross & Blue Shield for an opportunity for the grant,” Yarbrough said.

Mayor Lynn Spruill fully expects the board to approve the grant.