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Date of Issue: March 19, 2009

Fire district eyes stimulus funds

The West Manatee Fire Rescue District may have picked the perfect time to begin the process of upgrading its facilities to meet its needs for the future.

WMFR Chief Andy Price said there is $210 million in the federal stimulus fund that will be available just for fire service facilities.

Problem is, said Price, the federal government has not yet announced its grant submission criteria.

At the same time news of the grant money is surfacing, the districts facilities committee at its March 11 meeting approved a motion to recommend that the WMFR district board request proposals for a study that would assess district needs and evaluate its facilities.

Price said the RFP has to clear the district’s legal department before it heads to the board, but he’d like to have everything ready when the grant-writing criteria are announced.

“Here’s a good example of getting something done. We don’t have the funds to do what we would like to do, but we can get ready for when the grant opens,” he said.

If the board approves the RFP, Price said the district would be looking for a company with architectural engineers who have studied public facilities in the past.

“They can come in and figure out exactly what needs to be done and what’s going to be needed,” he said.

Some of the goals of updating the WMFR facilities are to get all administration in the same location and have the district able to meet the long-term needs of the people it serves, Price has said.

“The request is just the first step. We have to find out what we have, the space we need and the cost.”

Price hopes the bid process could begin within the next two months.