Leetonia Council moving to apply for first responder grant

LEETONIA — Village council has agreed to move forward with preparation for a grant application for the fire department.

Council this past week advised Fire Chief Larry Hephner to start gathering paperwork that will be needed to apply for a first responder grant with the help of grant writer Mickey Smith of Ohio First Responder Grants LLC. A contract with Smith’s company will be presented at the next council meeting.

Council made the decision after Councilman Neal Bayless and Hephner reported on their meeting with Smith earlier in the day.

They said Smith advised council to consider one application, with a preference placed on a brush truck, at a cost of $2,500. Council can also attempt three applications, with the second and third at a cost of $1,500 each. They said Smith made the recommendation based on the department’s run sheets and budget from the past three years.

If council does secure the grant, the village will pay Smith 5 percent, with another 5 percent used as matching local funds.

Hephner said a priority is being placed on the brush truck, which can be used off road because it is lighter than a pumper tank. It costs approximately $150,000 to $185,000. The second and third applications would be for new oxygen tanks and a new Jaws of Life hydraulic rescue tool, which cannot be bundled together.

Bayless said Smith has an 85 percent success rate.

Fiscal Officer Randy Chismar recommended moving forward with the paperwork now, then approving the contract at the next meeting, noting that the grant writing team is knowledgeable, with Smith being a former firefighter and his teammates including a grant foundation specialist as well as grant board member. So they know what to request and how to request it, he explained.

Bayless said the deadline for the grant application is typically later in the year, but Smith said it is expected to be moved up to spring. He said Smith suggested getting paperwork started as soon as possible to increase the chance of securing the grant.