By JIMMY LAWTON
POTSDAM -- After years of fundraising, St. Lawrence County's proposed $450,000 fire training facility may be within sight.
Fundraising committee co-chair Dale Gardner was shocked by the announcement from Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell's office today that promised $100,000 in funding for the project.
"I can't tell you how much that means to me," he said. "We had no idea."
Gardner said the timing couldn't have been better.
After being set ablaze more than 300 times over about 30 years, fire officials were told about four years ago they need to replace the old fire training building in West Potsdam because it is no longer safe.
Gardner said St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators Chairman Jonathan Putney, planned to bring a resolution before the board's finance committee tonight, which would have the county fund the remainder of the project.
"He said he was willing to put the motion on the floor and was confident he had the backing for it," Gardner said.
The extra funding, according to Gardner, would lighten the blow to the county, likely increasing the odds for a favorable vote.
Gardner said the committee has been collecting donations from various sources to move the project forward. A portion of the money was used for foundation work on the building. Gardner said the committee has also been working with the Industrial Development Agency to finance a portion of the project.
He said the IDA offered a low interest loan, but the organization needed more money upfront.
"The IDA was willing to give us a bridge loan, but we needed more money to get things started," Gardner said.
In October Senators Patty Ritchie R, Joseph Griffo and Betty Little also announced they had secured a $100,000 grant.
Gardner said the two grants combined with the funds raised by the committee would leave the group about $160,000 short of its goal.
In a release announcing the grant, Russell said it would be money well spent.
“Our firefighters and first responders deserve a modern and convenient training facility. This state-of-the-art facility will serve St. Lawrence County well in that regard,” Russell said. “Now the 41 fire departments and hundreds of emergency services personnel can receive training within St. Lawrence County and not have to train at facilities many miles away in other counties.”
Anyone interested in contributing to the project may send donations to:
St. Lawrence County Fire Training Facility, Inc.
Mr. Dan Basford, Treasurer
P.O. Box 391
Heuvelton, NY 13654‐0391.