LCRA, PEC award $31,300 grant to Sandy Harbor Volunteer Fire Department

Building expansion and upgrades to fire house/community center will help Fire Department better serve growing community

The following press release is courtesy of LCRA.

LLANO COUNTY, Texas – The Sandy Harbor Volunteer Fire Department will enlarge and upgrade its fire hall, which also serves as a much-used community center, thanks to a $31,300 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Pedernales Electric Cooperative.

The Community Development Partnership Program grant, along with $39,250 in matching funds from the VFD, will allow the department to add 600 square feet to the fire hall, improve energy efficiency and make the facility wheelchair accessible.

“The building hasn’t been updated since 1989,” said Douglas Hindelang, president of the fire department board. “It’s got half tile and half carpet because it was also the truck bay when it was built, and the fluorescent lights we have in there now buzz and pop.”

The fire hall serves as the main community center in Sandy Harbor, hosting exercise classes, art shows and Christmas parties, as well as meetings of local property owners associations. In addition, the department uses the hall, which also serves as a designated shelter for natural disasters, for trainings and meetings.

“It’s being used almost every day now for something, and we’re getting to the point where instead of having 50 or 60 people in there, we’re having close to 100,” Hindelang said. “The biggest thing we’re doing with this grant is opening the building up and doubling the footprint of usable space.”

As part of the remodeling project, the department will move the existing kitchen and restrooms, replace the siding on the front of the building, and add LED lighting, new windows and insulation. The project also will replace an HVAC system that is 30 years old and add a wheelchair ramp entrance and restroom that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“We’re a really tightknit community,” Hindelang said. “When you come in on County Road 311, Sandy Harbor is the only place you can go. We just want to give back and do something that’s to the betterment of the community.”

LCRA General Manager Phil Wilson said the upgrades to the fire hall will help support both the fire department and the Sandy Harbor community.

“The Sandy Harbor VFD fire hall is more than a fire hall,” he said. “It provides an important space where the department can train firefighters to better protect people and property. That is a vital service to any community and is much appreciated.”

Wilson said the hall also provides a much-needed meeting space.

“This fire hall is a place where people can congregate on a day of celebration or find shelter in the event of a disaster,” he said. “The Fire Department is dedicated to meeting the needs of the Sandy Harbor community, and we are proud to support the department as it works to continue meeting the needs of the community.’’

The community grant is one of 34 grants awarded recently through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which helps volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders and nonprofit organizations fund capital improvement projects in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water and transmission service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves. Pedernales Electric Cooperative is one of LCRA’s wholesale electric customers and is a partner in the grant program.

Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in July. More information is available at lcra.org/cdpp.

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