LCRA, Bluebonnet Co-op award $14,765 grant for fire utility vehicle in Smithville

New off-road vehicle will increase response capabilities for Heart of the Pines Volunteer Fire Department

Nov. 14, 2019

​​​​​Local Communities
LCRA and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative representatives present a $14,765 grant to the Heart of the Pines Volunteer Fire Department for an off-road utility vehicle with fire-suppression equipment. The grant is part of LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. Pictured, from left to right, are: Adrian Sepulveda, Heart of the Pines VFD captain; Travis Ward, firefighter; Rick Arnic, LCRA Regional Affairs representative; Roderick Emanuel, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative board member; Josh Lucas, fire department lieutenant; Lori A. Berger, LCRA Board member; Mizzy Hedge, fire chief; Bryan Bracewell, Bluebonnet board member; and Deborah Rogers, Bluebonnet community and development services representative.

SMITHVILLE, Texas – Heart of the Pines Volunteer Fire Department will purchase its first off-road utility vehicle to enable crews to better respond to wildland and other fires not easily accessible with large fire trucks, thanks to a $14,765 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative.

The grant, combined with a $3,692 matching contribution from the Heart of the Pines VFD, will pay for a new smaller vehicle with fire suppression equipment to help firefighters get to fires in hard-to-reach areas.

“This utility vehicle will allow us to go off-road with water to places our brush trucks can’t, such as undeveloped land,” said James Lewey, fire department treasurer. “With the new vehicle, we will be better prepared to tackle wildland fires, vehicle emergencies, and structure and home fires.”

Heart of the Pines VFD provides emergency services to about 35 square miles in central Bastrop County between Bastrop and Smithville. The department has mutual aid agreements with the cities of Smithville and Bastrop, and Bastrop County Emergency Services District No. 2.

“The VFD is also in between two state parks – Bastrop and Buescher – which makes the utility vehicle all the more necessary,” Lewey said.

“Without the grant, we would still be tasked with the additional challenge of fighting fires with the resources we have now,” Lewey said. “This utility vehicle gives us better firefighting capabilities than we had before and that’s why we’re excited to get this grant.”

This grant is one of a number of grants recently awarded through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which provides economic development and community assistance grants to cities, counties, volunteer fire departments, regional development councils and other nonprofit organizations in LCRA’s wholesale 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 will be accepted from Jan. 1-31, 2020. More information is available at

About LCRA
The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; providing a clean, reliable water supply; and offering outdoor adventures at more than 40 parks along the Colorado River from the Texas Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to enhancing the lives of Texans through water stewardship, energy and community services. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934. For more information, visit

About Bluebonnet
Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative is one of the largest electric cooperatives in Texas and has been providing power to its members since 1939. Bluebonnet serves more than 102,000 meters, and owns and maintains 11,000 miles of power lines, located across more than 3,800 square miles within 14 Central Texas counties. Bluebonnet’s service area stretches from Travis County to Washington County, and from Milam County to Gonzales County. For more information about Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, go to and follow the co-op on Facebook and Twitter.

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