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Volunteer fire units receive ‘much needed’ funds

The chiefs of the volunteer fire departments in Pike County gathered at the Meeksville Fire Station on Monday afternoon for, what has become, an annual event.

There was a lot of sharing of what’s going on at each of the fire stations and some personal catch ups, but mainly the talk was about the needs of each of the departments and how best to meet those needs.

When Sen. Wendell Mitchell arrived at the station, there were handshakes and words of appreciation for what he brought along from Montgomery.

The senator brought checks in the amount of $1,176 for each of the nine volunteer fire departments in the county.

“These funds are annual appropriations by the Legislature and are intended to help provide fire service to communities that would normally be without this much needed service,” Mitchell said. “The fire fighters unselfishly provide volunteer service to their communities and they are to be congratulated on their commitment to their fellowman.

“This appropriation has been a line item since 1990, and there have times when it was omitted from the state budget, and we’ve had to fight to get it reinstated. But we need to do what we can to support our volunteer fire fighters for all that they do to protect their communities.”

John Register, president of the Pike County Fire Fighters Association, said the annual appropriation is much needed and much appreciated by all the volunteer fire fighters.

“When money is as tight as it is right now, every penny helps,” Register said. “Proration has hit us just like it has everybody else. We try to spend the funds that are made available to us as wisely as possible.

“We appreciate Sen. Mitchell who always finds time to present the checks to us and want to thank him and all our legislators for keeping us in the budget.”

The funds the legislature provides are used to help the volunteer fire departments make repairs, buy equipment and insurance and maintain equipment.

“This is public money, and we always spend it with that in mind,” Register said.

“We also get money from the tobacco tax, and that’s about $1,100 a month and that’s a big help. Each department has fundraisers and we always appreciate donations.”

Register said the volunteer fire departments train and prepare fire fighters to respond to fires and other emergency situations in their communities and beyond when needed.

The volunteer fire departments that received annual funding were Meeksville, Lewis Davis, chief; Banks, Shane Brown, chief; Brundidge, Jonathan Sneed, chief; Goshen, Mark Miley, chief; Henderson, Ross Paul, chief; Springhill, Ray Armstrong, chief; Hamilton Crossroads, Tad Dent, chief; Saco, Jeff Allen, chief; and Pike County Fire and Rescue, Cliff Davis, chief.