By NATHAN GREGORY
The Starkville Board of Aldermen recently approved the acceptance of a grant that will match 90 percent of the funds of a new fire truck for Starkville Fire Department.
SFD Chief Rodger Mann said the pumper truck, which he applied for through the United States Fire Administration Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, will be used in the southwestern section of the city and will replace an older truck in Station No. 2. The new truck will cost approximately $750,000, $75,000 of which will be covered by the city.
“The city was faced with having to find a way to address this need because we knew it was coming. We’ve been trying to identify a way to make this happen. You can’t do it without finding funds somewhere,” Mann said. “The board had been looking for ways and had put it on the priority list. The grant is going to allow the city to be a step further down the road to addressing those high-priority needs that needed to be identified.”
Mann said after he suggests which bidder should be chosen for building the truck, he believes it will take six to eight months once the order is started before it is ready for use.
“That truck is 28 years old and has been refurbished once. The amount of money it would take to get that truck back up to today’s standard ... would not be worth what we paid for it. We would only get five more years of service life from it,” Mann said. “It’s a 75-foot ladder that will replace the truck at Station No. 2. It’s considered a quint pumper that has a ladder, carries water and has a pump (that has capabilities of) 15,000 gallons per minute. We’ll run this truck like we do pumpers at the other stations.”
Mann said he worked in coordination with U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper to get the grant.
“Gregg Harper is going to help you any way he can. We want to thank Congressman Harper for his assistance with getting this grant,” Mann said.
Harper said it was necessary to help the city get funding to replace the truck.
“Equipment upgrades help modernize and increase response efforts. Our first responders are on the front line of defense and selflessly serve the Starkville community,” Harper said. “We must provide these local heroes with adequate resources to carry out their demanding responsibilities.”
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said he is pleased Mann’s efforts to secure the grant have paid off.
“This is a truck that was over 25 years old that we were under a mandate from the fire ratings bureau to replace, and we were going to have to find a way to find a replacement in the next year. Chief Mann and his staff did an excellent job working proactively to pursue a grant to replace the truck,” Wiseman said. “These grants aren’t easy to get. They’re sought after by fire departments all over the nation. We’re very thankful for the efforts of our fire department and also the assistance of Congressman Harper’s office in obtaining the grant.”
Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office is coordinating with the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District in applying for rural development grants that would provide funding for two Chevrolet Tahoe SUVs. A public hearing to discuss the grants will be held at the County Board of Supervisors’ March 5 meeting.
OCSO Sheriff Steve Gladney said the process to apply for the grant is still in its early stages.
If the United States Department of Agriculture approves the grant, the two new transport vehicles would replace the current ones, which each have approximately 200,000 miles on them.
“The board approved to go forward with it ... but right now that’s just about it. The grant has been applied for ... that could happen this year. It might happen next year,” Gladney said. “What we want to do is replace those because they go all over the county picking up prisoners. Hopefully if we get (the grant) that’s what we’re going to use them for. We just have to wait and see how the grant turns out or if it does turn out.”
District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard said if will help OCSO in the long term if the county is able to receive funding for new transport vehicles.
“It would be a great opportunity for the Sheriff’s Department to get new vehicles with very minimal cost to the county,” Howard said. “Once we hold our public hearing and commence to pursue the grant, we’ll fill out the necessary paperwork and wait to hear if we’ll be receiving it.”