By Katie Dahlstrom Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — The federal government has awarded the city of Clinton nearly $450,000 to pay for a new fire and rescue boat that will cost almost $600,000.
The Clinton Fire Department will receive $448,000 in funding from the Department of Homeland Security’s Port Security Grant Program. This funding was competitively awarded and will be used to help replace a fire and rescue boat.
“We count on our firefighters and first responders to protect our families and communities,” Congressman Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, said when he announced the grant late last week. “I am pleased that the Clinton Fire Department is receiving this funding, which will ensure they have the proper equipment to respond to all disasters and allow them to continue to keep our river safe and commerce flowing.”
Clinton Fire Chief Mike Brown said the new boat will benefit the area by increasing the department’s capacity to protect not only citizens who live along and use the Mississippi River, but also infrastructure such as the U.S. 30, Iowa/Illinois 136, Iowa/Illinois 52 and Union Pacific Railroad bridges and the levee. It also will be used in the case of an emergency at the number of private businesses that line the Mississippi River in Clinton and surrounding areas such as Archer Daniels Midland, The Quad-City Nuclear Generating Station, 3M, Vertex Chemical Corporation and ARTCO Fleeting.
The boat will replace the Clinton Fire Department’s current boat, which the city has owned for roughly a decade and offers only a fraction of the firefighting capacity the new boat will offer.
“The most notable thing in our application was that the Coast Guard felt we were fairly under equipped to handle a major emergency along the river. This is something we need, but we could never go to the taxpayers and ask them to pay for this,” Brown said. “This new boat we will be able to use in multiple jurisdictions and will allow us to be better prepared.”
The grant is a 75-percent match, meaning the city will start an aggressive mission to obtain the remaining $149,538 needed for the new boat. Officials plan to approach the Clinton County Development Association, companies that could benefit from the boat and other potential funding partners to reach the $597,538 goal.
“Anytime Clinton receives money from the federal government is a great day. It’s nice to know that the government recognizes Clinton’s importance on the Mississippi River,” Mayor Mark Vulich said. “We are going to look under every rock we can to get the funding.”
After receiving the funding, the city will be close to a year from seeing the new boat. Officials will need to complete final vessel specifications, issue a request for proposal and develop standard operating guidelines, among other steps.
A boat of this kind can take up to six months to build, Brown said. He hopes to have the new boat in the water by next summer.
The Clinton Fire Department in conjunction with Clinton County Emergency Management, Clinton County Emergency Planning and Preparedness Committee, Clinton Police Department, Gateway Area Hazardous Entry Action Team, Illinois MABAS Division 30, Camanche Fire Department, and the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office pursued the project. Specialty teams that will benefit include Search and Rescue, SWAT, Hazardous Materials Operations /Technical, Water Rescue, Port Security and Marine Domain Awareness programs.
The vessel will primarily operate out of the city of Clinton marina.