LCRA, Bluebonnet award $25,000 grant for new fire engine


LCRA and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative representatives present a $25,000 grant to the Bleiblerville Volunteer Fire Department for a new fire engine. The grant is part of LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. Pictured, front row from left to right, are: Kate Holman, LCRA Governmental and Regional Affairs representative; Byron Balke, Bluebonnet director; Hondo Powell, Bluebonnet community and development services representative; T.J. Schulz, VFD treasurer; Kathy Ignasiak, VFD secretary; Tim Lapham, Austin County judge; and Lori A. Berger, LCRA board member. Middle row, from left to right: Bobby Rinn, Austin County commissioner; Jerrel Schovajsa, VFD director/firefighter; Joe Chovanec, firefighter; and Steven Doty, VFD president. Back row, from left to right: Greg Giebel, firefighter, and Carl Kokemor, VFD training officer/firefighter.

The Bleiblerville Volunteer Fire Department will be able to replace an aging fire engine, thanks to a $25,000 community development grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative. 

The grant, along with $75,000 in local matching funds, will allow the department to purchase a reliable, refurbished fire engine. The department’s existing engine is more than 20 years old and is becoming increasingly unreliable, requiring extensive maintenance on a regular basis.  

“A newer pumper truck will enable the department to respond quickly and safely to fires and other emergencies,” said Steven Doty, Bleiblerville VFD president. 

The fire department provides around-the-clock assistance to roughly 600 people in a 48-square-mile area of Austin and Washington counties. The crew also offers mutual aid to other agencies within Austin County during emergencies. 

“Our existing truck is beyond its useful service,” Doty said. “Every time we need it, we have to work on it to get it started.” 

The type of engine the fire department plans to purchase has modern features and a more user-friendly interface, helpful for a team of volunteers who aren’t using the equipment on a daily basis. The grant will allow the department to focus its efforts on other projects.  

“We’re going to be able to get other things done for the department and our community. Hats off to the LCRA and Bluebonnet for helping the Bleiblerville VFD – and many other organizations – help our communities,” Doty said. 

The community grant is one of a number of grants recently awarded through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. The program provides economic development and community assistance grants to cities, counties, volunteer fire departments, regional development councils and other nonprofit organizations in LCRA’s electric and water service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves. Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative is one of LCRA’s wholesale electric customers and a partner in the grant program. 

Applications for the next round of grants are due Jan. 31. More information is available at

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