Meridian Star

May 16, 2014

County seeks funds for new fire departments

By Terri Ferguson Smith /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Now that the county has bowed out of the grant application to fund a community building in Meridian's East End, officials have moved forward on a grant application to fund construction of two rural volunteer fire departments and purchase fire trucks.

    At a special called meeting on Thursday, supervisors voted to withdraw its grant application for the community center and apply for a $1,040,000 grant instead. The city of Meridian agreed last week to be the lead agency in applying for a $600,000 CDBG to help fund a community center that would also house Boys and Girls Club activities.

    If the county's grant application is approved, it will help the county fund a fire department in the northeast part of Lauderdale County and another in the southwest part of the county.

    Wayman Newell, District 2 supervisor, said this will provide fire protection for between 50 and 75 households in an area that has no volunteer department of its own.

    The department will give protection to those in the communities of Lauderdale  and Cuba; and on Raymond Cobb, Luther Ray Cobb, Oxford, Everett Mosely, and Gibbs roads.

    "When we get the fire station over there, the house insurance rating will go down," said Newell, adding that as the fire rating decreases, so will insurance costs.

    District 5 Supervisor Kyle Rutledge said the fire station in his area  would serve about 150 families.

    "The majority of populated roads are Meehan, Savoy, Point Bonita Road, Dunns Fall Road and Pauldin Road," Rutledge said. "There's been concern from the community. We have letters asking for it."

    Rutledge said although the area is served by Meehan Volunteer Fire Department, these residents are outside of the required five-mile radius so they are not eligible for fire rating discounts.

    The station will be located on Meehan-Savoy Road, he said. Because of railroad tracks in the area, there could be times when a fire truck is blocked by a passing train. A new station will alleviate this problem, Rutledge said.

    "The station is above Highway 80 and the train track cuts off the roads that would service that area," Rutledge said.

    Jenifer Buford, community development director for East Central Planning and Development, said there is no guarantee that the county will be awarded the grant because it is competing with other counties and cities for a limited amount of funding. Among those in the running for money from the same pool of funds is the city's application for the $600,000 CDBG for the new community center in East End.

    The deadline to apply for CDBG funding for this type of grant is today. Buford said Thursday she would make the deadline.