JEFFERSON COUNTY — Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency has received a donation of $20,000 from Dakota Access Pipeline, LLC.
The county’s emergency management agency is one of several that are receiving donations because it is one of the counties through which the pipeline travels. Dakota Access Pipeline stated in a news release that it is donating $240,000 to emergency management agencies in Iowa.
“Dakota Access Pipeline is committed to being a good neighbor, a good business partner and a valued member of Iowa’s communities. Dakota Access will make similar donations to county emergency management agencies across its four-state route, totaling $1 million across 50 counties in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois,” the news release said.
Jefferson County Emergency Management Coordinator Brett Ferrel said his agency received the money during a check presentation ceremony Oct. 16 in Wapello County. He’s not sure how his agency will spend the money, since its board hasn’t had a chance to meet since learning of the donation, which came as a surprise.
The donation has to go to communications and/or first responder projects. Ferrel has a few in mind that the board will discuss in the coming months. He mentioned the prospect of updating the county’s communications tower, or updating communication equipment at the Jefferson County Law Center.
This marks the second time Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency has received a donation from Dakota Access Pipeline. It received this same figure of $20,000 in 2017, too. That money went toward training emergency medical technicians (EMTs) in the county.
“Dakota Access has been a great business partner, making sure our responders are prepared for anything,” Ferrel said.
Ferrel said the emergency management board will probably try to amend its budget so it is authorized to spend the $20,000 during the 2019-2020 fiscal year that ends on June 30, 2020.
Tim Richmond, emergency management agency coordinator for Wapello County, said his agency will use the money to help first responders and local school students.
“The donation will be used to purchase weather station technology that can be used publicly online and will enable us to partner with schools’ STEM programs,” said Richmond, according to a news release from Dakota Access. “We also will purchase stream sensor technology for tributaries of the Des Moines River.”
“This donation will allow us to make plans to upgrades to the shelter at the Linda Whistler Memorial Training Center,” said Jamey A. Robinson, emergency manager for Mahaska County, in the news release. “We will add an ADA-compliant bathroom, as well as heating and cooling.”
“We are pleased that Dakota Access Pipeline is interested in the needs of our public safety systems,” said Larry Smith, Director of Emergency Management for Keokuk County. “We plan to purchase new equipment for our EOC, including a new phone system and instant command supplies. We will upgrade some of our communications equipment for on-scene management capabilities, and purchase HAZMAT response supplies.”
Dave Drummond, EMA Coordinator for Van Buren County, said that the county plans to purchase multiple items including a drone, side scan sonar, stream gauges, and water rescue training. Lee County will use the donation to make upgrades to their EOC, according to EMA Director, Steve Cirinna.
Dakota Access Pipeline traverses approximately 111 miles through Mahaska, Wapello, Keokuk, Jefferson, Van Buren and Lee counties in Iowa. The company also will be donating to the Iowa 4-H Foundation and the Iowa FFA Foundation. It had made a similar donation of $1 million to county EMAs after the pipeline began service in 2017.