Grants boost fire department

Monsanto grant program and Calhoun County Community Foundation combine to help Farnhamville firefighters

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter The old light bars on three Reading-Cedar Fire Department fire engines will be replaced soon with brighter, safer LEDs. The project can be done thanks to a Monsanto grant secured by firefighter and farmer Don Borland, shown here, and a grant from the Calhoun County Community Foundation.

FARNHAMVILLE — Volunteer firefighters in the Farnhamville area will soon have new light bars on their trucks with help from a $2,500 grant from the Monsanto Fund-sponsored America’s Farmers Grow Communities program.

The program is open to any farmer, said Steve Peterson, treasurer for the Reading-Cedar Fire Department located in Farnhamville. Don Borland, who is also a firefighter, went through the application process to win the grant.

By combining this grant with a Calhoun County Community Foundation grant, the department was able to make every dollar go farther, Peterson said.

“In that instance we were going for an upgrade in lighting on several of our fire trucks. It was about a $10,000 project,” Peterson said. “In Calhoun County the maximum grant is $5,000, and they will do 50 percent up to $5,000. So if you had a $12,000 project they would cap at $5,000. If you had an $8,000 project they would cap at $4,000.

“So we were able to take the donation from Mr. Borland, and use it to contribute half of our contribution for that grant money.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Vosberg unloads the electric stretcher which the Reading-Cedar Fire Department obtained in the past with help of a Calhoun County Community Foundation grant. Similar grants have helped the firefighters buy radios, training eqiupment, and grain bin rescue items, and will soon provide new light bars and flashlights for some of the trucks.

“It’s kind of a perfect storm. Basically our taxpayers, our funding mechanism here, for the $2,500 we contributed, we got a $7,500 return.”

Some of the existing, rotating lights are from the mid-80s, he said. The new LED units are brighter and more effective, and will improve safety, Peterson said.

“It allows you to direct traffic with signals,” he said.

The department will also replace some large flashlights with new LED ones, which have a little more punch using less power.

These Calhoun County grants come from casino money, Peterson said. This is the money granted to Calhoun County as a non-gaming county.

The Reading-Cedar Fire Department has made good use of these grants.

“In the fire station itself we have replaced the roof. We’ve updated all the interior lighting to LED lights, in both the old fire station and this new addition,” Peterson said. “We bought an electric stretcher (for the ambulance.) We’ve bought two-way radios. We have bought grain rescue equipment.”

Landus Co-op provided some of the grain rescue equipment, and with a community foundation grant the fire department added ropes, a rescue harness, saws and more equipment to complete the set.

The foundation also helped with new fire hoses and nozzles, and video equipment for the training room.

The Calhoun County Community Foundation was formed in 2005. Since then it has granted more than $1 million to more than 300 local projects.

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