State OKs grants to buy Yampa fire truck, Hayden school bus

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— Yampa Assistant Fire Chief Dan Allen danced a jig at county offices Friday after learning his beleaguered fire department was likely to receive a state grant for a new truck.

The average age of fire trucks in the Yampa Fire District is about 38 years old.

"I was on four (fire calls) where we had to work on the trucks," Allen said about last year's fire season. "It was a good thing we had that backup engine in Phippsburg."

Yampa Fire Chief Ron Nielsen has enough problems finding volunteers for the county's largest but least-populated fire district. News of a new fire truck would boost morale, he said.

"We spend too much of our time working on our trucks instead of training," Nielsen said.

"If you go on a call and something doesn't happen (to the truck), life is good," Allen added.

Yampa's last new truck was bought in 1994 and is a Dodge rescue truck that can carry 250 gallons of water and is dispatched to car accidents.

Last week, the State Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Grant Advisory Committee approved grants for the Yampa Fire District, Hayden School District and the city of Steamboat Springs.

Yampa's fire district had asked for $135,790 to buy a Type 1 fire truck, which can fight structure fires. The Energy Impact Committee unanimously approved the full request.

County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, who sits on the state committee, said members were impressed Yampa managed to raise $55,000 on its own to help pay for the truck. The department's yearly revenues are only $49,000.

Nielsen hopes getting the new truck will give more incentive to individuals to volunteer for firefighting.

"It instills a little more pride," Nielsen said.

As for the city of Steamboat Springs, the Energy Impact Committee approved a $300,000 request to expand the wastewater pipeline that runs south of the Yampa River to the city's water-treatment facility.

The city is kicking in $1 million for the project.

County Commissioner Dan Ellison said the pipeline needs to be expanded because it is operating at capacity and sometimes has problems with infiltration into the environment.

The Energy Impact Committee also approved $60,902 to help buy a school bus for the handicapped. The committee took into consideration that the Hayden School District has lost state school funding because of a loss in enrollment. The school district is putting in $20,000 of its own money to buy the bus.

The money comes from mining and energy industries and provides financial assistance to those communities impacted by mining operations. Routt County is the largest producer of coal in Colorado.

Bob Brooks, the executive director of the State Department of Local Affairs, will take the advisory board's suggestions under consideration and make the final decision in a couple of weeks.

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