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Despite an administrative snafu, Lancaster County Council approved matching a federal grant for the
Indian Land Volunteer Fire Department during its meeting late last month.
Council voted 6-0 at its Jan. 28 meeting to approve a $2,000 local match to fund a new breathing air compressor for the fire department. Councilman Steve Harper was absent from the vote on a previously scheduled trip.
The amount is 5 percent of the total grant, with $38,000 funded by the federal government.
While acceptance of these types of grants is not unusual, County Administrator Steve Willis said the circumstances surrounding this and several other grants this year were a little strange.
He said the applications for two larger firefighting-related grants – one for daytime firefighters and another for recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters – were submitted to council and county staff for review.
However, county officials only learned of the existence of grants for 11 of the county’s volunteer departments after members of the Indian Land department requested a local match for their grant.
“I’m not sure one particular person is responsible and really it’s moot now, it just got lost in the shuffle and was never brought to council,” Willis said. “A couple of weeks ago Indian Land Fire Department said
‘We got our grant, can you approve our match’ and I said ‘what grant?’”
Willis said the confusion was simply an administrative error.
“The grants the individual fire departments wrote were compiled and made it to the fire service. At the same time, the fire service was working on two very, very large grants,” Willis said. “With all that was going on, the two big grants made it over to us through the normal process, but the individual fire department grants did not.”
The various grants, 14 in all, are for capital needs and would only cover items such as extrication equipment, turnout gear, vehicles, radios and various tools. If all were approved, the various departments would receive a total of $1,069,413 in federal funds, with the county required to match $56,210.
“But we never get all the grants we apply for and I certainly don’t think that will start this year,” Willis said.
Minutes before the vote, Darren Player, deputy director for the county’s fire service, apologized to council for the late notice regarding the grant applications.
“We got so engrossed we forgot to send what we compiled,” Player told Council. “We didn’t send it. It’s not a good feeling not having sent the boss man what was supposed to be sent. I dropped the ball.”
Councilwoman Charlene McGriff reassured Player about the error.
“Believe it or not, we all make mistakes. So don’t beat yourself up over it, but the main reason we wanted to know is how to budget,” McGriff said. “This is a one-time expense, right, and we may not receive it?”
Player said she was right on both counts.
“We’ve never hit on every grant,” Player said. “We have very good equipment in this county. So over time the ability to justify needs is tougher and we don’t get as many grants.”
McGriff advised Player to make sure the fire service lets council know about these types of grants ahead of time.
“If council does grant you this money, know from this point on to plan ahead of time,” McGriff said.
Other than the ILFD grant, Player said the fire service believes grants may soon be awarded to both the Charlotte Road/Van Wyck and Shiloh Zion volunteer fire departments.
Council then voted to approve the ILFD grant match, to be paid out of a council miscellaneous line item.
Council also decided to review each remaining fire department grant match on a case by case basis as the grants are awarded.
Also at it’s Jan. 28 meeting, council voted 6-0, with Harper absent, to approve:
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416