LCRA awards $25,000 grant to Shelby Volunteer Fire Department

New helipad will provide a designated zone for emergency helicopter landings

Dec. 7, 2023

Lower Colorado River Authority representatives present a $25,000 grant to the Shelby Volunteer Fire Department for construction of a helipad. The grant is part of LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. Pictured in the front row, from left to right, are: Barbara Mulford, VFD secretary; Ann Aschenbeck, Shelby Cemetery Association president; Margaret D. “Meg” Voelter, LCRA Board member; Rudy Engstrom, VFD president; and Kate Ramzinski, LCRA Regional Affairs representative. Back row, from left: Roy Pieper, Shelby Hermann Sons Life Lodge president; David Weinert, Harmonie Hall president; Berrie Etzel, assistant fire chief; Kevin Hupe, fire chief; Jerry Thompson, Saint Paul Lutheran Church council president; Tom Rabb, American Legion Post 602 adjutant; and Matthew L. “Matt” Arthur, LCRA Board member.

AUSTIN COUNTY, Texas – A $25,000 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority will help the Shelby Volunteer Fire Department build a helipad near Shelby American Legion Post 602. The Community Development Partnership Program grant, along with more than $49,000 in matching funds from the department, will allow the VFD to construct a 60-by-60-foot concrete landing zone that will be available for helicopter landings 24/7. The Shelby area saw four emergency helicopter landings in the last year, causing concern among some members of the community. After receiving an outpouring of community support, department leaders decided this project was needed because the nearest helipad is 8 miles away. “The helipad will allow for a permanent place for a helicopter to land without the need for the fire department to set up a spot every time a patient needs to fly to a medical center,” said Blake Moehlmann, Shelby VFD treasurer and firefighter. Shelby VFD Assistant Fire Chief Berrie Etzel said the helipad also will create a safer environment for patients, fire department personnel and the helicopter medical team. With an older population and retirees moving into the area, the department wants to ensure the community is able to quickly have access to advanced medical care. Time is critical in life-threatening situations, and firefighters say having better access to a helipad when urgent medical care is required will make a difference. “The helipad will enable our firefighters to respond to critical incidents and keep the patient’s medical window within the golden hour, giving each patient a better chance for recovery,” said Rudy Engstrom, Shelby VFD president. “We are thankful for this grant and opportunity for our community.” Shelby VFD serves Austin County and portions of Fayette and Washington counties, as well as the communities of Latium, Industry, Shelby, and portions of Burton and Round Top. The community grant is one of 45 grants awarded recently through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which helps volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders and nonprofit organizations fund capital improvement projects in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water and transmission service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves.

Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in January. 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 fulfilling our mission to enhance the quality of life of the Texans we serve through water stewardship, energy and community service. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934 and receives no state appropriations.

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