FROM STAFF REPORTS
The Lower Colorado River Authority handed out more than $111,000 in grants through its Community Development Partnership Program to four Highland Lakes emergency service agencies. The Pedernales Electric Cooperative chipped in on two of the donations.
LCRA and PEC officials made the rounds June 4 to present checks to the Kingsland Volunteer Fire Department, Hoover Valley Fire and Emergency Services, the Cassie Volunteer Fire Department, and the city of Burnet.
LCRA awarded an $18,124 grant to the Kingsland department for a new Jaws of Life extraction tool. The local department is putting $5,000 of its own money toward the purchase.
Fire Chief Danny Stone said the new tool will be battery-powered, replacing 34-year-old hydraulic equipment that lacks the dependability the department needs to serve Kingsland and surrounding communities.
“We have the oldest Jaws of Life in the county, and we respond to fire, rescue, and EMS calls for a large portion of Llano County,” Stone said. “If any part of our current equipment gives us problems, it slows down our ability to respond quickly.”
In Burnet, LCRA officials presented the city’s fire department with a $50,000 check. The money — along with $60,000 from the city — will be used to build a live-fire training tower.
City Manager David Vaughn said Burnet has had to acquire vacant buildings for past live-fire training, so there was never a reliable schedule. Plus, there was no way to control and plan for any hazards the firefighters might encounter.
“Training on a regular basis is incredibly important,” Vaughn said. “You want to make sure you’re putting the firefighters in a position where they can be physically and mentally prepared and think clearly. This is invaluable training.”
LCRA General Manager Phil Wilson said the authority is honored to contribute to a project that will help protect firefighters and the people they serve.
“We value safety above all else, and we’re tremendously excited to help the Burnet Fire Department make this facility a reality,” he said. “The project is a great example of the values (that) LCRA and the city of Burnet hold dear.”
PEC joined LCRA in Hoover’s Valley, where officials presented a $23,296 check to Hoover Valley Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services. The money, along with $10,000 in matching contributions, will be used to replace outdated radios with state-of-the-art, hand-held ones.
Though Hoover Valley Fire and EMS serves about 25 square miles of western Burnet County, the coverage area includes Inks Lake and Longhorn Cavern, which together attract more than 270,000 visitors a year.
Fire Chief Joe Schreiber said the department’s current radios have become increasingly unreliable, and the manufacturer no longer supports them.
“Our mission is to serve the area in fire protection, rescue, and other emergency services,” he said. “With our old radios, we truly felt we weren’t able to live up to the full extent of that mission. We will be serving our community much more reliably with these new radios.”
LCRA and PEC again teamed up, this time in Cassie, where they awarded $19,643 in funding to the Cassie Volunteer Fire Department/Burnet County Emergency Services District No. 2 to help purchase a new fire rescue boat. The local department and ESD are matching the funds with $26,643.
Cassie sits along the shores of Lake Buchanan. Currently, when calls come in that require a boat, Cassie VFD must request assistance from other agencies or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Fire Chief Derrick Curtis said the new fire rescue boat will enhance the response to Inks Lake and the southeast section of Lake Buchanan.
“This rescue boat is vital to our mission to protect the lives of Burnet County citizens and visitors, and thanks to the LCRA and PEC, we’re able to purchase the boat, train with it, and deploy it much sooner than we would have been able to otherwise,” Curtis added. “It absolutely will save lives.”
LCRA’s Wilson said he was glad the water authority could help.
“First responders can’t always get to the site of an emergency by land, and this new rescue boat will let Cassie firefighters respond quickly without having to wait for help from other departments,” he said. “We’re pleased the (Community Development Partnership Program) grant would help add another rescue boat to the area (and) help enhance public safety.”
Applications for the next round of CDPP grants will be accepted July 1-31. Go to the LCRA grant’s webpage for more information.