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$300,000 donation to Granite Shoals Fire Department could go toward training facility

JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER

GRANITE SHOALS — An anonymous $300,000 donation to the Granite Shoals Fire Department Auxiliary might be the needed spark to help other area fire departments.

Granite Shoals Fire Chief Austin Stanphill said he and auxiliary members will examine in-depth the best way to use the donation.

A possible fire training facility tops the list. Along with the Granite Shoals department, officials would open the facility to other local departments, including Burnet, Marble Falls, and Llano.

“The closest (training facilities) are in Travis or Williamson counties,” Stanphill said. “We’ll discuss how we spend it. I’ll recommend we do something that will also help other departments.”

While the location of those training facilities are within a reasonable drive, the chief said it is the preparations required for the trips that are a challenge. A training trek to Travis or Williamson counties means prepping the trucks for travel and training as well as getting all the participating firefighters ready.

A trip to an adjacent county for a fire department means a lot of logistical work as well as the trip itself.

So constructing a local training facility has positives that are hard to ignore, the chief added.

“It’s more far-reaching,” he said. “And doing something like (building a training facility) on a city budget would be tight. We want to build something that lasts longer than any of us.”

Costs, inspections, and other aspects will be analyzed, Stanphill said.

The auxiliary, which meets the second Monday of the month, will have its next meeting at 7:30 p.m. March 13 at the fire station, 8410 RR 1431 West. The auxiliary board will make the final decision on how the donation will be spent, he said.

The chief said the advantage to donating directly to the auxiliary means the money will benefit the fire department since the auxiliary exists for the department; donating to the fire department directly forces fire department officials to hand the money over to the city, which would then put it in general funding to help other departments.

“The auxiliary helps supplement purchases the city already does,” he said. “For instance, if we need training, the city’s budget already pays for that. The auxiliary will pay for room and board and some other travel expenses. These are items not allowed to be purchased through the budget.”

The auxiliary also pays for two other programs:

• smoke detectors in homes. Residents simply need to call the department at (830) 596-8110 to request them.

• After the Fire, a program that pays for a night in a hotel room and other short-term expenses for families that have lost everything in a house fire.

“It’s an intermediate bridge, so that we’re just not driving off,” Stanphill said regarding the additional support for fire victims.

Individuals can join the auxiliary and don’t have to be a full-time Granite Shoals resident. If anyone wants to be a board member, they must be an auxiliary member and able to meet the second Monday of the month.

“We’d like for them to have a vested interest in the area,” Stanphill said.

He declined to give a hint about the identity of the source of the anonymous donation, stating the individual doesn’t desire any credit.

“That would give it away,” he said of the identity. “They want to keep it low-key. They wanted to do something nice for the community, spend it on something we needed. They asked us what ideas we had.”

He added the donor also didn’t put any stipulations on how the money should be spent.

Usually, the most money the auxiliary has received in one day is $1,000-2,000 through its annual concert.

This year’s concert featuring the Wallace Family Band is 7 p.m. March 10 at First Baptist Church, 505 S. Phillips Ranch Road. Advance tickets are $5 for children and $10 for adults purchased at the church office or the fire station. Tickets at the door are $7 for children and $12 for adults.

jfierro@thepicayune.com