Mitchell, SD—U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) today met with area firefighters and stressed the need to preserve vital federal funding for public safety as lawmakers look to cut spending. The Mitchell area has benefited from federal grants for public safety in the past, including $17,813 last year to purchase safety equipment and training resources.
“We are in a difficult budget situation and we need to make cuts, but we cannot balance the budget on the backs of first responders,” said Johnson, a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. “Our communities need quality public safety and I am going to continue to defend federal programs that provide our firefighters and law enforcement officials with resources to help keep us safe.”
Johnson was joined at the event by Lyndon Overweg, Police and Fire Chief; Paul Morris, Assistant Fire Chief; Marius Laursen, Fire Marshal; Lou Sebert, Mayor; Zachary Dalrymple, Firefighter and Brad Kobza, firefighter.
In addition to last year’s grant for safety and training resources, the Mitchell Fire Department also received a $310,095 federal grant in 2006 to hire three firefighters that continue serving the community today. The grant covered part of the firefighters’ salaries for three years and the department is keeping the firefighters on staff.
Also today, Johnson visited Mitchell Technical Institute’s (MTI) new Campus Center building with Greg Von Wald, President, MTI; Mark Gerhardt, VP of Industry Relations and Development, MTI, and Julie Brookbank, Director of Marketing and Communications, MTI. Johnson and MTI officials discussed the school’s recent development projects.
Johnson is holding a series of events across South Dakota during the Congressional District Work Period. He has already held events in Aberdeen and Sioux Falls, and will continue to travel through the state in the coming days.