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Communications grant approved for Nobles County

WORTHINGTON -- Worthington Fire Chief Rick Von Holdt was surprised and happy Friday to hear Nobles County has been awarded $551,741 through the Assistance to Firefighters Grants.

The grant, part of the Department of Homeland Security, will be used to purchase the new radios needed for interoperability between departments.

"This is pretty exciting," Von Holdt stated. "This will expedite getting things in place and we can start training."

As a volunteer department, members don't generally have the opportunity to use radios every day, and learning a new system will take some time, so the sooner the equipment is available, the better versed in its use the members will be.

"Communication is always an issue, and it can be made tougher with mutual aid or natural disasters," Von Holdt stated. "It can be hard to communicate on different wavelengths."

The grant encompasses all Nobles County fire departments along with the Adrian Ambulance, according to Worthington Fire Department member Dave Hoffman, who helped write the grant.

"It was originally a 2009 grant, but we were told it was good but didn't pass," Hoffman stated. "We filled out a new one for 2010, but a few months ago got a request for more information on the 2009 request."

The requested amount was more than $600,000, but Hoffman said the approved amount will be of great help.

"It is an exciting time," Von Holdt stated. "We are going forward with the new fire station, and we have a lot of stuff going on. The Midwest is thriving in Worthington."

In a statement released Friday through the Minnesota Congressional Delegation of the U.S. Congress, Sen. Amy Klobuchar said the grant would help provide emergency personnel with the tools and technology needed to ensure the safety of Minnesota families.

"At a time when local budgets can't possibly get any tighter, it's vitally important that we keep our focus on our first responders," added Sen. Al Franken in the statement. "These funds will ensure that Minnesota's firefighters have the technology they need to keep our communities safe."

"The reason we needed the grant was to comply with the FCC Narrow Banding requirements.  The equipment will be purchased for all ten Nobles County Fire Departments and will allow us to communicate throughout the entire state.  With this notification we will be able to get the equipment immediately.  We're thrilled with this grant," said Hoffman.