Powellsville tops national voting

Published 9:22 am Saturday, April 25, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Friday afternoon, E-One officials announced the national winner of their “Tell Us Your Story” contest. That winner was our own Powellsville Volunteer Fire Department.

The winning effort, one where online votes were cast for seven national finalists, means PVFD will receive a 2009 Tradition ES Commercial Pumper, a fire truck valued at $185,000.

“I’m standing right here, right now watching them paint the word ‘Powellsville’ on the door of the truck,” said PVFD Chief David Powell, speaking to the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald by cell phone from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. “It’s a beautiful sight.”

Powell – who was joined on the trip by his wife, Dr. Cheryl Powell, and PVFD Assistant Chief Ralph Brinkley – said he was speechless when E-One officials announced the winner.

“Unbelievable, that’s about all I could say at the time,” he said.

Given the vote totals, it’s apparent that the nation believed PVFD deserved the new fire truck.

“Powellsville was the clear-cut front runner in the voting,” E-One Marketing and Communications Manager Amanda Davis said. “They won by about 5,000 votes.”

Davis added that the contest was a way for her company to give something back to those within the fire fighting ranks.

“They’re there for us when we need them, so we need to be there for them,” Davis said.

When E-One, a leading manufacturer of first responder vehicles based in Ocala, FL, first announced the contest, they had no idea of the response.

“We received 640 entries and narrowed those down to the seven finalists,” Davis remarked. “It was a tough job choosing just seven, but we felt each of our finalists best fit the required criteria – creativity and originality of story and description of need.”

In Powellsville’s case, the need was great. The last new vehicle purchased by the department is a 1972 model, which remains their “first-out” pumper truck.

“We have other vehicles, but they’re all old and outdated,” Chief Powell said. “One of them is totally out of service because it needs a transmission and we can’t afford to make those repairs.”

Earlier this year, PVFD officials thought they had hammered out a grant/loan deal with USDA to purchase a new truck. However, that deal fell through when it was discovered that PVFD did not have enough operating capital to make the annual loan payments.

“That was very discouraging,” Powell said. “We do all we can to raise money in order to keep our doors open and our trucks running so we can serve the people of our little community, but it’s just not enough to make ends meet on the loan payments.”

Just after receiving the bad news from USDA, Powell said he went home and tossed all the paperwork in a pile to be later thrown in the trash. Little did he know was that his wife, Dr. Powell (a Powellsville veterinarian) retrieved the discarded papers and, upon leaning of the E-One contest, decided to take matters in her own hands.

Working with PVFD member and local historian Ernie Carter, Dr. Powell drafted 15 letters. With the assistance of the staff at her veterinarian office, she finally chose the one to be submitted.

“Those guys try so hard, only to see one disappointment after another,” Dr. Powell said. “I saw that (crumpled) paperwork and knew something else had backfired on them. I felt compelled to do something to try and help.”

Dr. Powell admitted she didn’t consider herself much of a writer, but apparently she is….her hometown is on the map as a national winner.

PVFD is expected to take possession of the new truck perhaps as early as late next week.

The other six finalists were:

Butte Falls Volunteer Fire Department (Jackson County, Oregon);

Five Points Volunteer Fire Department (Washington County, Florida);

Gallatin Sunnyside Volunteer Fire Department (Allegheny County, Pennsylvania);

Hines Volunteer Fire Department (Hines, Oregon);

Oneida Volunteer Fire Department (Clay County, Kentucky); and

Weaverville Fire Department (Weaverville, California).