KINGWOOD, W.Va. – Delegate Terri Sypolt (R-Preston) urged Governor Justice on Friday to include additional funding for local volunteer fire departments and volunteer emergency medical services personnel when distributing federal CARES Act funds.
“Our local volunteer fire departments and volunteer EMS rely on the support of their local communities to survive,” Delegate Sypolt said. “In addition to bearing significant costs during the COVID-19 pandemic, these organizations have also been hindered by health guidelines that have prevented them from holding the fundraisers they need to fund their budgets.”
A release from the West Virginia House of Delegates stated that Delegate Sypolt said that while local volunteer first responders, EMS and fire departments may receive some aid from state and local tax dollars, a lot of them fund their budgets through fundraisers. Sypolt also said that many of there fundraisers take place during local fairs and festivals, which have unfortunately been canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While the federal CARES Act allows the state to reimburse these organizations for direct COVID-19 costs, I worry they will still not be able to make up the budget gaps they’ve suffered by not being able to conduct their annual fundraising activities,” Sypolt said.
The release stated that Delegate Sypolt is joined by Senators Randy Smith (R-Tucker), and Dave Sypolt (R-Preston), who separately sent a letter to Gov. Justice making the same request. Fellow Preston County Republican Delegate Buck Jennings, who serves as Vice-Chairman of the House Committee on Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services, also supports the request.
“Since the Governor has yet to call a special session to deal with budget issues related to the pandemic, both Delegate Buck Jennings and I strongly urge him to do whatever he can to help backfill the budgets of our local first responder organizations to ensure they can continue to provide their critical, life-saving services in communities across the state,” Delegate Sypolt said.