By Barbara Jernigan

Four Stephens County communities will receive $115,000 of the $1.59 million available for Oklahoma’s Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) grants in 2007.

Grant proposals submitted by the volunteer fire departments from Doyle, Velma, Central High and Oakridge were four of the 35 projects funded. Rush Springs’ Fire Department also received a grant.

REAP grant applications are evaluated and prioritized on a point scale, and any applicant receiving at least 40 points (out of a possible 110) is placed on a priority list.

Grant proposals submitted by Comanche, Bray and Meridian missed out on being funded in 2007 by one point or less. According to ASCOG’s Elizabeth Milligan, each will start out the 2008 grant cycle with between 6 and 9 points for missing the cut this year.

REAP grants are available only for cities or towns with a population of 7,000 or less. Any town with a population less than 1,750 has higher priority. Rural water districts with less than 525 non-pasture customers are also eligible.

Grant requests can range from $20,000 to the maximum allowable of $150,000.

Cities or towns who have a “relatively weaker fiscal capacity” have priority.

This year’s winners included:

• Doyle Fire Department — $25,000 for the purchase of equipment such as a pump, jaws and other related tools, air bags and a portable air compressor, a foam unit, fire suppression equipment and an additional truck bed to be placed on a truck donated by Anadarko Petroleum.

• Velma Volunteer Fire Department — $30,000 for the purchase of 10 SCBAs (self-contained breathing apparatus) to help the town achieve a lower ISO rating.

• Central High — $30,000 for the purchase of a grass rig to replace a unit that is 21 years old.

• Stephens County District 2 — $30,000 to enlarge the Oakridge Fire Department Building.

• Rush Springs Fire Department — $30,000 to add a large garage, training room, offices, showers and restrooms to the fire station.

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