EMA gators

Huntingdon County Emergency Agency officials used a $1,000 grant from Valley Rural Electric Cooperative’s Community Service Grant to service two UTVs in their vehicle fleet to be used for emergencies and large community events. Valley Rural Electric Cooperative officials and EMA officials include, from the left, Doug Roles, Valley REC vice president of member services; Katie Unger (a VREC member), EMA operations and training officer; Joe Thompson, EMA director; and Chris Gresko (also a VREC member), CCA assistant director of employment and training.

Thanks to the help of Center for Community Action and a grant from Valley Rural Electric Cooperative, the Huntingdon County Emergency Management Agency’s UTVs are once again ready to be operational in the event of an emergency.

Thanks to a $1,000 grant from the Valley Rural Electric Cooperative’s Community Service Grant Program, the EMA office was able to put two UTVs they agency has owned for around 15 years were serviced without the use of any county taxpayer dollars, but with the help of agencies working together.

Joe Thompson, Huntingdon County EMA director, explained how this collaboration to receive the grant funds started.

“We realized that both of our (John Deere) Gators were in need of repair,” he said. “We just started to work with CCA to seek potential funding sources that would help with EMA with several of our projects to continue public service work.”

CCA was able to identify the Valley Rural Electric Cooperative grant as a potential way to do just that, as the EMA is not a nonprofit entity, but can work with nonprofit entities like CCA to obtain funds.

“Because we’re technically not a nonprofit organization, there’s certain funding for which we cannot directly apply,” said Thompson. “But, having an organization like CCA, they can submit the application, they can administer the grant, but the grant is used by us for a specific purpose.”

Thompson also explained the repair work that was done to both of the UTVs.

“One just needed routine service,” he said. “The other one developed an oil leak where if it wasn’t fixed, it would no longer be usable. The cost of buying new ones would be prohibitive at this point, so we thought it would be a good investment to get them serviced and back in use. It saves the taxpayer money in that we’re using using money out of our budget for the work.”

The UTVs are typically utilized at large public gatherings held in the county, like the Creation Festival, the Huntingdon County Firemen’s Convention, the Oktoberfest in Cassville and the Hartslog Heritage Day Festival, but these UTVs can be of use in the event of emergencies such as searches.

By developing partnerships as the EMA office has done through the last few years, Thompson said this allows the EMA office to better serve the community.

“I’m a big believer in all of us working together to help get things done. Sometimes, the federal and state funding sources are very difficult and very competitive,” he said. “This grant was competitive as well, but we try to be realistic as to what we can be seeking for funding. If we have local organizations and businesses helping us out and to continue to further develop the public service we can do for the county. This is a great partnership and a great way to approach it.”

Thompson is grateful for the opportunity to work with businesses like Valley Rural Electric Cooperative and human service agencies like CCA, and he hopes these collaborative efforts can continue with even more businesses and agencies.

“This is just the beginning of working with more groups,” he said.

Kylie can be reached at khawn@huntingdondailynews.com.

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