LCRA, Bluebonnet Electric Co-op award $25,000 grant for addition to fire department

Expansion at Salem Volunteer Fire Department will accommodate emergency equipment, community events

May 14, 2018

LCRA and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative representatives present a $25,000 grant to the Salem Volunteer Fire Department to construct a stand-alone addition to house fire trucks and equipment. The grant is part of LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. Pictured, from left to right, are: Darrell Stein, Salem VFD second assistant chief; Joy Fuchs, Washington County Precinct 4 commissioner; Don Koester, Washington County Precinct 1 commissioner; Louis Schwarze, VFD building committee member; Arthur Nordt, VFD treasurer; Lance Lehmann, fire chief; Luther Hueske, Washington County Precinct 2 commissioner; Lori A. Berger, LCRA Board member; Russell Stein, VFD president; John Brieden, Washington County judge; and Kenneth Mutscher, Bluebonnet board member.

A new stand-alone building to house the Salem Volunteer Fire Department's largest fire trucks and equipment will be constructed thanks, in part, to a $25,000 Community Development Partnership Program grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative.

"We outgrew the space we had," said Russell Stein, president of the department. "The building we're in now is old, built in the early '80s. With this new building addition we're able to have plenty of room for future training and to store our trucks and equipment."

The addition will include three truck bays with electric overhead doors to facilitate a faster emergency response time by allowing trucks to leave the station more quickly. Energy-efficient heating will prevent water in the trucks and pumps from freezing during cold weather months. The project also includes replacing a porch cover, digging a retention pond and improving a parking lot. The department has more than $200,000 in matching funds for this project, and will receive in-kind labor from licensed electricians, plumbers, carpenters, craftsmen and HVAC technicians during construction.

The department provides parts of Washington and Austin counties with 24/7 emergency services and has approximately 40 member volunteers. Servicing equipment and training opportunities have been hampered by the cramped current facility. In addition to protecting expensive firetrucks, the new addition also will be available to rent for community events.

"With this new facility, it will ensure we'll be set for many years and have good equipment to fight fires," Stein 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 wholesale electric and water service areas. The program is part of LCRA's effort to give back to the communities it serves. Bluebonnet 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 July 1-July 31. 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; ensuring a clean, reliable water supply; and offering access to nature at more than 40​ parks, recreation areas and river access sites along the Texas Colorado River, from the 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 serving its members since 1939. Bluebonnet serves nearly 95,000 meters and owns and maintains more than 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.

Media Contact
Clara Tuma