By Lyra Bordelon
Two new vehicles will be coming to the Alderson Police Department after the award of a $50,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture was formally accepted by Town Council on Monday, October 26. Joined by Kris Warner, WV State Director USDA Rural Development, and Madison Stone, a representative of Congresswomen Carol Miller, the town took another critical step toward rebuilding the police department.
“It is my honor to announce a $50,000 Community Facilities Grant to the town of Alderson to assist in the purchasing of two, new all-wheel-drive police vehicles,” said Warner. “Keeping a community safe, clean, and in-order takes an entire team of dedicated public servants. Dedicated public servants like yourselves who put the needs of the community first. That dedication and determination is what helps make rural communities West Virginia strong.”
“These [types of meetings] are the best because you’re able to see the fruits of a couple of year’s worth of work come through,” said Copenhaver. “I want to thank Mr. Warner, the state director for USDA Rural Development. You indirectly have given us the ability to replace junk. The thing that people don’t understand is that grant funding is extremely important in our type of government because we don’t have unlimited funds. Our general fund is small, our needs are big, and we appreciate any help you guys are able to give us.”
Before and after several officers left the Alderson Police Department, the issue of vehicles was a frequently cited point of contention between the department, Copenhaver, and the Town Council. In February, council approved the purchase of a 2014 Ford Taurus with approximately 22,000 miles, costing about $13,000, using funds from the police department, a liquidation sale, and city funds. Although council approved the purchase of the used vehicle, the deal was never finalized, with Copenhaver explaining a grant application could have brought a bigger benefit to the department.
“We got a grant for two new vehicles – one is going to be a sedan, the other is going to be a K9 unit,” Copenhaver explained in August. “We’ve replaced cars with grants that have not cost [tax payers] a dime and we’ve been able to do that through using the special fund, by doing the grants. … Council did authorize to purchase a vehicle previously and, if you all remember, I said no. The reason I said no was [because] it was not budgeted. If we had expended that money then, we couldn’t afford the match for the new brand new cars, not a used car, two brand new cars.”
In addition, council voted in August to liquidate the police departments K9 unit enabled Ford Explorer that Copenhaver noted “was part of the problem with the police department’s budget,” and the funds were allocated for the grant match. According to Warner, Alderson is adding $31,047 as a funding match, bringing the total investment amount to $81,047.
“We’re replacing outdated vehicles, outdated service vehicles, and outdated police vehicles with these very successful grants,” Copenhaver said. “We pay our portion and [USDA has] given your portion and it works.”
According to information provided by Warner, the rural development investment is part of 20 Community Facilities Direct Loans and Grants with a total investment of $6.5 million. These loans and grants are typically used for the purchase, construction, and improvements on essential community facilities, equipment purchases, and pay-related project expenses. Warner also noted Alderson has previously received funds from the USDA.
“Today is not the first time USDA has been able to partner with the town of Alderson,” Warner said. “In fact, today’s $50,000 brings our partnership total to more than $185,000 since 2014. We look forward to continuing and building upon the partnership.”