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Volunteer fire departments collectively receive $175,000 in grant funding

Nine volunteer fire departments across Stanly County received matching grant funds through North Carolina’s Office of the State Fire Marshal totaling around $175,000.

The funds ranged from roughly $1,300 to almost $30,000. The departments that received funding were Aquadale, Badin, Bethany, Endy, New London, Oakboro, Richfield-Misenheimer, Ridgecrest and South Side.

Even though grant recipients were announced in May, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey and Chief State Fire Marshal Brian Taylor were in Albemarle on Monday to present ceremonial grant checks to the respective departments. Causey also toured the construction site of Charlotte Pipe and Foundry in Oakboro.

“It is good to get the Commissioner to Stanly County to show appreciation to our fire service and recognize those that received grants from our office,” Taylor said. “The past 18 months have been very different from responding to calls to maintain their required training and maintenance on equipment for their insurance rating.”

The checks are part of a matching grant program providing more than $9.8 million to 554 volunteer fire departments across the state, according to the NCOSFM website. The funding is used to help departments purchase needed equipment and any other capital expenses.

Fire departments match the grant on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to $30,000.

Each department received the exact amount it applied for in the spring. Ridgecrest Volunteer Fire Department received $29,845, the most of any department in the county, followed closely by Richfield-Misenheimer, which received $29,180, and Oakboro, which received $28,544.

“If it wasn’t for this type of grant…there’s a lot of departments throughout the state that would be in rough shape,” said Oakboro Fire Chief Rodney Eury, whose department applies for the funds every year. “It helps out a lot.”

Eury said his department, which is comprised of 32 firefighters, plans to use the funds to purchase new turnout gear, radios and pagers.

The fire chiefs for Ridgecrest and Richfield-Misenheimer have not responded to attempts for comment regarding how their departments plan to utilize the funds.

The Stanly fire departments collectively received more funding than most neighboring county departments including those in Anson, Cabarrus, Montgomery and Union. Only Rowan, which had 13 departments apply for funding, received more with about $240,000.

The amount the fire departments received this year was about $46,000 more than last year, when eight departments applied for and received funding. East Side Volunteer Fire Department received the most last year at roughly $28,000 but did not apply for funding this year. Millingport, which received $21,000 last year, also did not apply this year.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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