MANKATO – The AgStar Fund for Rural America, the corporate giving program of AgStar Financial Services, recently announced $127,835 in grants to 94 communities through the Emergency Response Equipment Grant Program. Due to the great need and large volume of applications, the AgStar Fund doubled the amount of departments served and increased the budget for this program by twenty five percent.
According to John Monson, Chair of AgStar’s Fund Board of Trustees, “Rural communities are being asked to do more with less, even when it comes to emergency services. This is our biggest investment in the program to date and we saw an incredible need this year. Many of the grant requests we received were for fundamental equipment and supplies. We see deserving volunteer fire, rescue and ambulance departments struggling; that’s why we at AgStar felt compelled to do more.”
Grants for up to $2,500 are awarded for funding equipment for volunteer fire, rescue and ambulance squads in AgStar’s 69 county service area. Since the Fund’s inception in 2001, AgStar has awarded nearly $567,274 to fire departments, ambulance teams and rescue squads in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
With a record number of grants awarded this year, following are a few examples of what the AgStar grant dollars will support. The Barnum Volunteer Fire Department in Carlton County, MN will replace communication equipment and a rig that was lost in the flooding this past summer. The Bear Lake Haugen Fire Department in Barron County, WI was supported with a grant to fund grain bin rescue equipment. With a free mutual aid agreement in Barron County, no department has the grain bin rescue equipment, making rescues difficult or even impossible. Finally the Watertown Fire Department in Carver County, MN will use their funds to replace a damaged hose that was discovered earlier in the year during their annual hose testing.
“AgStar also encourages other organizations interested in providing funding to local EMS team to contact their local department to learn more about how to help,” suggested Monson. “It’s obvious to us from the increased number of grant requests we receive that many departments are looking for support to meet basic needs to keep these communities safe.”
The Wisconsin departments receiving grants this year are: Baldwin Area EMS, Bear Lake Haugen Fire Department, Bloomer Area First Responders, Boyceville Community Fire District, County Line First Responders, Durand Municipal Ambulance Service, Ellsworth Fire Services Association, Elmwood Area Ambulance Service, Luck Rural Fire Department, Plum City Fire Department, Prescott Area Fire and Ambulance, Rock Creek Township Fire Department, South Shore Area Ambulance, Spring Valley Fire Services Association, Stanley Fire Department, Tilden Volunteer Fire Department and Town of Superior Volunteer Fire Department.