LCRA awards $50,000 grant to Ledbetter VFD

New battery-powered extrication tools will help first responders rescue people more quickly

Lower Colorado River Authority representatives present a $50,000 grant for new rescue gear to the Ledbetter Volunteer Fire Department. The grant is part of LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. Pictured, from left to right, are: Jackie Handrick, grant writer; Tom Oney, LCRA chief people officer and executive vice president of External Affairs; State Rep. Stan Kitzman; Joshua Contreras, firefighter; Matthew L. “Matt” Arthur, LCRA Board member; Kevin Weiss, firefighter; Phil Wilson, LCRA general manager; Kevin Woelfel, fire chief; Margaret D. “Meg” Voelter, LCRA Board member; Todd Schroeder, assistant fire chief; Maritzol Steinmeyer, firefighter; Abe Pace, captain; Johanna Osborne, VFD secretary; Al Contreras, VFD safety officer; Kate Ramzinski, LCRA Regional Affairs representative; Clayton Schroeder, firefighter; Jadon Weidemann, VFD president and firefighter; and Rodney Read, VFD treasurer and firefighter.

FAYETTE COUNTY, Texas – A $50,000 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority will help the Ledbetter Volunteer Fire Department outfit a recently purchased firetruck with new, more effective rescue tools.

The Community Development Partnership Program grant, along with $53,593 in matching funds from the department, will pay for battery-powered extrication tools, including a cutter, spreader and ram that help first responders free people from wrecked vehicles or other places they cannot get out of on their own. The grant also will cover the cost of installing on-board storage compartments for the new tools and their batteries.

Reliable extrication tools are essential to firefighters’ rescue efforts, and Ledbetter VFD Fire Chief Kevin Woelfel said he’s grateful for the new tools, noting that the department has another set of rescue tools it bought used.

“These tools have been on our wish list for a pretty good while,” Woelfel said. “Everybody’s excited and looking forward to having some new rescue equipment to put to work. We’re all apt to use things we know are newer and reliable. We also might get a few more donations to our department when people see their money going to something worthwhile.”

LCRA General Manager Phil Wilson said LCRA is proud to support Ledbetter VFD’s efforts to improve its emergency care by upgrading its rescue equipment.

“The volunteer fire departments in our state deliver critical care in many rural areas, and we are so thankful they fill this important role,” Wilson said. “We’re glad the Ledbetter VFD is there for those who need their help, and LCRA is delighted to help purchase these new rescue tools that will aid their efforts.”

Ledbetter is an unincorporated community in northern Fayette County that sits alongside U.S. Highway 290, roughly halfway between Austin and Houston. In recent years, Woelfel said, the Ledbetter VFD has responded to an increasing number of accident scenes along the highway.

“Sometimes, it’s two or three wrecks a month, and it seems like the crashes are getting worse and we’re having to use more tools to extricate people,” he said. “The amount of time we need to get to the accident and then get people out and into an ambulance is pretty critical, depending on their injuries. Using new, more effective rescue tools can make it safer for us, too.”

The 30-member Ledbetter VFD, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2022, serves parts of Fayette, Washington and Lee counties.

The community grant is one of 44 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 July. 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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