Bellefontaine received news Friday it will receive enough federal funds to cover about half the cost of a new aerial ladder truck. Fire Chief Andy Fissel and Mayor Ben Stahler broke the news first to the City Council Finance Committee and then later in Tuesday’s regular meeting.
“Quite a celebration,” the mayor said of the news. The city applied for the grant with an ordinance in support, a step Chief Fissel said is critical for approval of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It also helped to have a grant writer to lead the city through the grant application requirement process, the chief noted.
The city will pay the writer around $32,000 for his services to this point. Mayor Stahler noted the city has known for more than five years that the ladder truck, now 26 years old, needed replacement. Administrators have been setting aside money with the idea the city would have to pay the entire bill. With the FEMA Assistance to Firefighter Grant, the city will have to come up with $600,000 to $700,000. Chief Fissel said his department has been working on the specifications for the truck and have samples driven to the department to make sure it can clear height and weight issues.
He told Finance Committee members spending authorization will need to come quickly so the city can meet a year deadline to take delivery of the truck.
Mayor Stahler notes the city has received $1.5 million from the FEMA grant program since 2004 for self-contained breathing apparatus, a breathing air compressor, an exhaust system for the vehicle bays, firefighter gear, hoses and nozzles.
“The city would like to thank our Ohio leadership in Washington, D.C., including senators and representatives, for recognizing the important role that federal funding plays in supporting a purchase of this magnitude and for championing for our city to receive this grant,” the mayor said.
Ordinances to move ahead with the purchase should be before the council at its next meeting Sept. 28.
In other action, council members approved supplemental spending measures for new vehicles for several city departments and capital improvements and new tractor at Myeerah Nature Preserve.
• The Parks Department plans to fix roofs on two structures at the 450-acre park at 7405 State Route 540 and replace a 1985 tractor used to clear brush and level gravel drives at the park.
• The Bellefontaine Police Department will be able to purchase two new cruisers, one of which was in the 2020 budget. The Bellefontaine Fire and EMS Department is in line to receive an addition $118,000, $36,000 of which will be used for a trailer to haul clean air cylinders for refilling firefighters’ air packs on scene.
• The city and Lake Township Trustees are contributing money and resourced to outfit a department pickup truck with a snow plow to maintain the department’s drive apron and a federal grant of nearly $70,000 will help purchase rescue tools for the department.
• A service body truck is in the queue for the Water Department while the Wastewater Department will get a pickup truck to replace a worn out pickup.
Service-Safety Director Wes Dodds reported paving will start later this month with an Ohio Department of Transportation project on Sandusky Avenue from Madriver Street to U.S. Route 33. The Shelly Co. will then move into the city’s $1 million paving program around the city.