Saturday, March 2, 2024

County allocates remaining ARPA funds for the purchase of 13 EMS/VFD generators 

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The Hood County Commissioners Court allocated the remaining $119,494 in ARPA funds for the purchase of 13 EMS and Volunteer Fire Department generators using a grant match program, during a regularly scheduled meeting Dec. 12.

During a previous Hood County Commissioners Court meeting Nov. 14, the court approved the allocation of the $5.6 million pandemic-related American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

The 3:2 vote allocated $3.5 million to construct three new combined fire and EMS stations in Indian Harbor, Baccus and DeCordova; $1.1 million to expand the current Pecan and Cresson Fire Departments; $500,000 to the Hood County Sheriff’s Department for new equipment; and $25,000 to the Hood County Constables for new equipment — resulting in a total of $5.1 million.

During the Nov. 28 meeting, the court allocated $380,000 of ARPA funds to the Indian Harbor Volunteer Fire Department for the intended purpose of purchasing a fire rescue boat, leaving the remaining funds to be allocated during the Dec. 12 meeting.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Nannette Samuelson spoke during Tuesday’s meeting and explained how the need for generators for the local fire departments and EMS stations was made apparent during the winter storm in 2021.

“Several of our EMS and fire stations had to operate with the bay doors open, which put the trucks and the equipment at risk of freezing,” Samuelson said. “Water inside the pumps was at risk and could freeze. Some (members of the) volunteer fire departments actually brought heaters from their homes to try to keep the temperature in the base at least 32 degrees so that the equipment wouldn't freeze. Thanks to our resourceful grant writer and our emergency management director, they found a grant specifically for generators for first responders, but it does require a 25% match.”

Samuelson explained the 13 generators are estimated to cost around $500,000 total and the remaining ARPA money would cover a 25% match up to $480,000. She explained how an additional $11,000 from capital would match up to $525,000.

Hood County Emergency Management Coordinator Margaret Campbell told the court she didn’t have updated numbers yet on what the 13 generators would cost, but by her estimate, Samuelson’s prediction was “probably pretty close.”

“These are the generators that we’ve been talking to the fire departments for forever,” Hood County Judge Ron Massingill said, during the meeting. “So, I think y’all did a great job on finding the grant money that will get them. I think this is something that we need to do.”

Campbell pointed out the grant would also benefit EMS facilities like Pecan EMS, Texas EMS and the new stations that are going to be built soon.

“So, everybody will have a generator,” Massingill confirmed.

Ray Taylor, president of the Pecan Plantation Volunteer Fire Department and EMS, expressed just how beneficial the generators will be for the various volunteer fire departments around the county.

"We need these generators, just for the reasons spoken before — to keep everybody operational during the storm,” Taylor said. “Our ambulances sat outside for a week, just so they wouldn't freeze. We had to leave them outside running. We couldn't get our bay doors open and closed, so that's the reason right there. We need it — for the whole county.”

Samuelson then made the motion to approve funding the 25% generator grant match needed for the 13 EMS and VFD generators using $119,494 of the ARPA grant fund, with any remaining match to be funded out of Fund 55. The Fund 55 expense would also not exceed $11,000.

The motion carried unanimously.