Communities facing dry weather and drought conditions may be facing additional needs this year. The Nebraska office of USDA Rural Development stands ready to offer aid for emergency equipment to communities in rural Nebraska.
“Our Community Facilities Programs have direct loans and grants to assist communities with populations of 20,000 or less with getting new or updated emergency equipment to meet their needs,” explained Community Programs Director Kelley Messenger.
For example, USDA Rural Development recently worked with Gosper County Nebraska to help with the purchase a new grass fire truck through the Community Facility Disaster Grant Program.
According to Acting Fire Chief Dustin Clouse, his department has had more fire calls recently than in normal years, which he attributes to high winds and drought conditions. He said the increased capability of adding an additional truck is certainly welcome but added that the truck is special to the fire district for another reason.
“Fire Chief Darren Krull was the person finishing the build-out on the new truck, which was not complete on April 7, 2022, when he was killed in a vehicle crash while responding to a fire. We came together to finish the build-out the night before his funeral. So, this truck is very special to us for that reason. It reminds us of him.”
USDA RD Community Programs Loan Specialist David Fulton assisted with the project. He said he is proud of the work he and his team did to get the Community Facility Grant application processed for Gosper County, with an area of 463 square miles, they now have a grass fire truck dedicated to their needs 24/7. He hopes other departments will reach out as well.
“USDA RD serves rural America, so we understand rural fire districts and rural issues. Come to us, we’re here for you,” said Fulton.
Interested communities are encouraged to reach out to a USDA RD representative in their region to discuss project needs and qualifications. The following professionals are available across the state to take questions and help applicants apply for USDA RD Community Facility funds, including grants available for public safety services such as fire departments, police stations, prisons, police vehicles, fire trucks, public works vehicles or equipment; and healthcare facilities such as hospitals, medical clinics, dental clinics, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.
North Platte Office – Sara Pierce (308) 221-3689
Kearney Office – Dave Fulton (308) 455-9844 or Kaleb Browning (308) 455-9838
Norfolk Office – Anthony Guenther (402) 371-5350 ext. 120 or Marla Ourada (402) 437-5598
Lincoln Office – Marshall Stephens (402) 437-5732 or Niki Dittmer (402) 437-5737
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/ne.
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