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Rural Fire District gets construction grant

The Prineville Fire Department got the good news last week - the Rural Fire District is the recipient of a $300,000 grant to be used to build a substation in the Juniper Canyon area.
The Prineville Fire Department got the good news last week - the Rural Fire District is the recipient of a $300,000 grant to be used to build a substation in the Juniper Canyon area.
   The proposed Juniper Canyon substation is part one of a three-part capital improvement plan for the fire district. The district board has worked hard exploring every possibility to obtain grant monies to fund two fire substations, one in Juniper Canyon and the other at a site in Powell Butte. The third part is the addition of a woman)s dormitory onto the main station in Prineville.
   "I think the board had resigned themselves to believe there was no free money out there," Fire Chief Bob Schnorr said. "This is a welcome change to all the dead-ends the board has run into. This grant will go a long way to fund the overall expansion project they have outlined."
   Captain John Hite of the Prineville Fire Department and Darrin Fleener from the Oregon Economic Development Council collaborated in obtaining the federal grant. Early in the formation of the fire district, there had been reports and promises of a so-called Federal Fire Bill; money the federal government had promised everyone. That, Hite said, is almost non-existent. "There is a great deal of hype about this 'One Hundred Million Dollars' in grants available," Hite said.
   The Fire Act money was handed over to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Authority) to administer. "FEMA took their cut and passed what was left on to the Forest Service and State Forestry in order for them to actually distribute to fire districts," Hite explained. "After those agencies had taken out their administrative fees, there was between $30 and $40 million dollars left of the grant funds."
   Add to that, Hite went on to say, "The fact that approximately 33,500 fire departments in the nation are requesting funds and the original $100 million doesn)t go far."
   Hite applauds the effort of Congressman Greg Walden for his hard work in Washington, D.C. "He really is working hard for us, but getting any money out of the Fire Act is pulling a rabbit out of a hat."
   The board has not announced when construction of the Juniper Canyon Substation will begin.