Wow, the first emergency call out of the new fire station. As I pulled into the driveway of the new Heyburn, Idaho, Fire Station for the ribbon cutting, I was greeted with the red lights flashing on the fire truck as the fire crew rushed to their call. Initially, I thought about how much faster the crew can respond to the family who needs their help due to the improved location of a new station, thanks in part to the USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Direct Loan program, with funds for this particular station being provided through the Recovery Act of 2009. But then my thoughts turned back to the two days prior, when the volunteers gathered at the new station for an additional training session. Some of the volunteers on that truck were the same volunteers at the training, who were once again taking time away from their paid jobs, to ensure their neighbors and employers have access to the same emergency services that I take for granted living in the Boise metropolitan area.
Volunteer Fire fighters are known for providing emergency services, but now I began to see how they also contribute to the economic opportunity of this rural community. Their commitment not only saves local tax dollars, but also helps build a solid economic foundation. We know that construction related jobs were saved during the construction of the new station, but how many jobs will be created or saved as a result of the emergency services provided through the fire fighters service?
During the grand opening, it felt as if the entire community turned out for the ribbon cutting. Most of the organizations involved in the planning, funding, and construction were present as well. Afterward, I was told how the voters in the Minidoka County Fire Protection District overwhelming supported the bond for the new station. A sense of pride came over me - I was fortunate just to be a part of this celebration, I was honored to have met these fine men (and woman) who sacrifice for their community, and I was proud to work for USDA Rural Development where we have such great partners and a loan program that helps rural communities provide adequate facilities, equipment, and training to their well deserving volunteers.
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