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Senator Hamilton delivers much needed support for local volunteer fire departments

By Stephen Smoot, The Pendleton Times

FRANKLIN, W.Va. — After a difficult year in which Pendleton County’s volunteer fire services and other responders repeatedly found themselves stretched to the limits of their capacity, they received much needed support in the form of Local Economic Development Assistance funds from State Senators Bill Hamilton and Robert Karnes.

Hamilton came to Franklin last week to deliver the checks for $6,000 a piece to Seneca Rocks Volunteer Fire Department, Circleville VFD, Franklin VFD, and South Fork VFD. Upper Tract VFD will receive theirs within four to five weeks.

Hamilton explained that each state senator and delegate receives a certain amount of money from which they can distribute funds to worthy recipients. Each submission must receive the signature of the chamber finance committee chair, the Senate President or Speaker of the House, then the Governor.

He added that he and Karnes forged an agreement years ago to combine their allotments so that those selected to receive support could get more and that funds would not be spread so thin. Half of the $6,000 comes from each senator’s allotment. 

Hamilton related that each of the 143 fire departments and between 15 and 20 emergency rescue units in the 11th Senate District received the same amount from the fund.

This arrangement also came into play late in 2022 when both senators steered support toward the Pendleton County Library.

Hamilton said that although the state has done more recently to support emergency responders, especially volunteer units, that reliance on lottery funds and one time disbursements of funds do not go far enough to establish a long term solution for funding problems. Fire and ambulance services face skyrocketing costs for basic needs such as vehicles, fire protection equipment, medical devices, and more. 

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