At a time when some Marshall County volunteer fire departments continue struggling with low membership numbers, $711,540 from the federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program will provide all stations with new radio equipment.
"This will benefit all of the departments greatly," Sherrard VFD member John Davis said Tuesday during a meeting of the Marshall County Commission. "Hopefully, it will greatly improve communications."
"This is very good news for us," county Emergency Management Director Tom Hart said.
Photo by Casey Junkins
Marshall County commissioners, from left, Don Mason and Brian Schambach look on Tuesday during a meeting.
Sens. Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, both D-W.Va., helped secure the funding to help small local fire departments continue operation.
"Day after day the dedicated volunteers at our local fire departments help protect our local communities in West Virginia," Manchin said. "As a former volunteer for the Marion County volunteer rescue squad, I appreciate and understand their hard work and dedication first-hand."
"It is essential that our firefighters have the resources they need while working to protect our communities during emergency situations," Rockefeller added.
According to County Administrator Betsy Frohnapfel, active VFDs in Marshall County include Sherrard, Benwood, Boggs Run, Cameron, Dallas, Fork Ridge, Glen Dale, Limestone, McMechen, Mount Olivet, Roberts Ridge, Saint Joseph, Washington Lands, Mozart and Moundsville, which also features a part-time professional department.
The former Fish Creek VFD ceased operations in 2011 due to a lack of members, while the former Big Wheeling Creek VFD closed that same year after failing to pay for its worker's compensation insurance.
Although the other departments continue to operate, several have membership problems because of the time it takes firefighters to earn certifications for all the new safety requirements.
In another matter, commissioners Don Mason, Brian Schambach and Bob Miller authorized Sheriff Kevin Cecil to hire Glen Dale police officer Nathan Klempa as a new deputy. He will earn a salary of $31,500 per year upon starting Sept. 15.
Commissioners also agreed to donate $2,500 in support of the annual Marshall County Chamber of Commerce dinner, set for Oct. 2 inside the former West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville. West Liberty University President Robin Capehart is the scheduled speaker.