ARP funds fire training upgrades | State and region


BLUEFIELD – Bluefield will dedicate its first US Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to a joint project with the City of Princeton.

At the Bluefield City board meeting on Tuesday, board members approved an ARP expenditure of $ 25,000 to help modernize the fire training center in Princeton.

“Bluefield doesn’t have a training facility, but Princeton does have one available,” Bluefield Fire Chief Chad Bailey said, adding that after years of “hard” training he needed upgrades. level.

Bailey said Princeton City Manager Mike Webb and Bluefield City Manager Cecil Marson met and came up with the idea of ​​working together.

“They could train without having to travel so much and we could bring training from other areas to do that,” Bailey said, “and that helps build a relationship with that side of the county (Princeton).”

Firefighters would also be better trained, he said.

“This is a joint project with Princeton,” Marson said, adding that it meets ARP guidelines and the city has gone through the state auditor’s office to verify it. “It’s a well executed use of funds. “

This is a small-scale use of the funding with major projects to follow in the future, but these projects have not yet been finalized.

“I also think it’s a very good test for the community to get the ARP funds and start spending those funds,” he said. “I think it’s a win-win for everyone and I think it will be a good thing for our firefighters and our citizens.”

Marson said firefighters often have to travel to Greenbrier County for training, it puts them off for a few days and it’s expensive to send them there.

These upgrades can help all firefighters and save money.

Bailey said the training center needs upgrading and will provide local firefighters with a place to train without leaving town and will qualify all firefighters in the area.

The project will cost between $ 100,000 and $ 125,000, he added.

“They (Princeton) put the bulk of the money there,” Marson said. “The small portion we put in is an olive branch and a team effort to do things better in the county… It helps the firefighters; it helps our citizens.

“It’s a fantastic use of funds,” said Mayor Ron Martin. “And it’s been long overdue. I know that at one point we were looking to build our own. There is no sense in going through this expense … It will benefit everyone. “

Bluefield receives a total of $ 4.1 million in ARP funding, half of which was already received last year and the other half will arrive later this year.

Princeton will get a total of $ 2.36 million.

Work on the fire training center will include a four-story tower, stairs and viewing platform, perimeter fence and barrier, large containers and underground propane plumbing.

In other matters, counsel:

Heard from Marson that the town hall community meeting on the new community outreach program between town and Bluefield State College is set for 5:30 pm Wednesday at town hall.

BSC coaches, some administrators and city board members will be in attendance at the meeting, he said, and all interested residents are welcome to attend and get involved.

Marson said the city has been mapped into all five districts with designated sports teams to cover certain areas and help people with tasks that need to be done but may be unable to do.

This could be cutting grass, removing debris from yards, helping move furniture, or doing small paint jobs.

“Our goal is to go out and reach out to every home and every member of the community… and learn block by block what the issues are,” he said, adding that some of the townspeople are older, living. on a fixed income, have no immediate family and are unable to do much on their own.

Marson said it brought the community and athletes together not only to help those in need, but also to build relationships.

But the first step is to find community volunteers to act as the link between the city and the program, which is coordinated by Felicia Oakes, BSC’s deputy athletic director for academic success and community engagement.

Those attending Wednesday night’s meeting will be asked to complete an employment checklist form to begin the process of listing places where help is needed in their neighborhood.

The liaison will give the information to Oakes, who will then create a database and coordinate work with the sports teams.

• Approved an application for a new fire truck.

Bailey said the offers have been accepted and the pick will cost $ 641,000 and be ready in 14 to 16 months.

A 1998 model is in the process of being replaced which is “well out of its service date”.

With money already set aside for capital equipment, a $ 50,000 grant from the USDA, and payment assistance from the Shott Foundation ($ 38,000 per year), the city will be left with about 191 $ 000 for its part, Bailey said.

• I heard from Jim Spencer, director of community and economic development for the city and head of the Bluefield Economic Development Authority (BEDA), that a new technical assistance program is now available for new businesses in the city that have started on or after January 1. 2021, or entrepreneurs who plan to start a business in the city during that calendar year.

Spencer said anyone interested can apply for financial assistance of up to $ 500 to help with professional services, including legal, accounting, accounting, marketing or other services.

The program is funded by a $ 5,000 grant to BEDA from Truist Bank.

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• I learned from Marson that meetings with artists are organized to discuss murals in the city.

“We are looking to beautify the downtown area,” he said, “looking at the options”.

Mercer County Commissioner Greg Puckett, who ran a very successful mural program in Princeton, is being consulted, he added.

Marson also said the city is researching the eventual launch of a boys and girls club.

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