Grant hearing held

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Drakes Branch Volunteer Fire Department held a public hearing Monday night regarding their intent to apply for grant funding for assistance with fire equipment.

According to Drakes Branch Fire Chief Kenny Tharpe, no one was in attendance at the hearing and the fire department held their regular meeting following the hearing.

According to a public notice, the “Drakes Branch Volunteer Fire Dept. hereby provides notice that it intends to file an application for grant funding with USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), Rural Development for assistance in fire equipment (supply and preconnect fire hose and turnout gear).”

Tharpe previously said while some of the gear was damaged during recent flooding, it was covered by insurance. However, more supplies are still needed.

The grant will fall under the community facilities programs, which could include projects such as fire/rescue stations, village/town halls, health care clinics, hospitals, adult/child care centers, assisted living, rehab centers, public buildings, schools, libraries and more, according to the USDA.

Currently, the Department is also seeking funding to construct a new fire station and joint municipal building.

The current facilities, which house the fire station and municipal offices, is susceptible to flooding.

A flood study was recently conducted by the town’s consultant, A. Morton Thomas and Associates, who presented the goals and findings of the study at an Oct. 17 public meeting.

Tharpre previously said, “the cement floors are sinking, and the walls are cracking.”

He also previously noted that the building would not sustain over time.

During Hurricane Michael, Associate Don Rissmeyer, of A. Morton Thomas and Associates, previously said the lowest point of water across Main Street in Drakes Branch was probably about 3 feet deep.

He said the municipal building and fire department flooded during Hurricane Michael.

“At this point, the fire department has had to move two vehicles out at the advice of an engineer that the building might collapse,” said Rissmeyer, at that time.

He said in other sections of the fire department, the floor is settling “and when there’s a serious flood event, you can see the water seeping up through the floor …”

Rissmeyer also said previously when the firefighters come in to respond to a call, they have to cut the power off so no one will get electrocuted.

“It’s a pretty serious situation,” he said.