Loan aids Ahoskie in purchase of life-saving equipment

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 13, 2006

AHOSKIE – The check isn’t in the mail.

It has already arrived.

During a brief ceremony held here Tuesday morning, local, state and federal officials gathered for the presentation of a $300,000 check to the Town of Ahoskie.

The money came in the form of a low-interest loan from USDA Rural Development and has been used to purchase a 2006 Emergency Support Vehicle for the Ahoskie Fire Department.

The new vehicle, which replaces a 1980’s model step van, comes complete with a 10-foot roof with a command post at the rear of the cab area. It is equipped with a 25 KW PTO generator and a multi-directional light tower.

Now in full service, the vehicle contains all the vital equipment firemen need in performing their jobs n tools, extrication equipment, air bottles (with an onboard recharging device), rakes, shovels, axes, traffic cones, support braces, etc.

“Speaking on behalf of the Town Council, we thank (Ahoskie Fire Chief) Ken Dilday, Mr. Garland Burnette of USDA Rural Development and all of his support staff and the offices of Senator Richard Burr and Congressman G.K. Butterfield for all of their help in allowing us to purchase this magnificent piece of life-saving equipment,” Ahoskie Mayor Linda Blackburn said.

In return, Chief Dilday praised the efforts of the Ahoskie Town Council for their vision. He also had a special word to say about Susan Christensen, Area Specialist in the Williamston office of USDA Rural Development.

“This type of grant process was all new to me, but Susan was patient and worked with us all the way to ensure that the money was available for us to add this important piece of equipment to our fire department,” Dilday noted.

Reuben Clayton, Regional Director for Congressman Butterfield, and Betty Jo Shepheard, Senator Burr’s representative, were on hand for Tuesday’s event.

“Congressman Butterfield sends his greetings and offers his congratulations to the Town of Ahoskie for adding this vital piece of emergency response equipment,” Clayton said.

“This truck will provide a valuable service to the citizens of Ahoskie and its surrounding communities,” Shepheard stated. “Senator Burr congratulates you for making this commitment to your local citizens and wishes to let you know that he will do anything he can to help rural communities such as Ahoskie.”

Burnette, USDA Rural Development Area Director, said he was delighted to be a part of this very special day in Ahoskie.

Speaking in regards to the firefighters, Burnette said, “We know the job you guys do day in and day out and we at Rural Development want to let you know that we are proud to provide the funds in order for you to do your jobs, that of protecting the citizens of your community. Our job is to help improve the quality of life for citizens living in rural areas.”

Burnette added that he is hoping USDA Rural Development can continue to serve Ahoskie in such upcoming projects as expansion to the town’s wastewater treatment plant, a revitalization project at R.L. Vann School and the town’s proposed new police station.

USDA community programs provide resources through low interest loans as well as grants to rural communities to assist them in affording necessary items such as emergency vehicles, fire and rescue stations, medical units and daycare centers.