New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs a check for $640,000 to the Town of Keene to help fund their firehouse project.
One year ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo stood in front of the Keene Firehouse and said that it would be rebuilt.
On Aug. 29, Cuomo followed through on that promise by issuing $640,000 in funding to the town of Keene in order to start the construction on the new building, which will be located in the hamlet across from Stewart’s.
“We know that there was a shortfall when the anticipated funding from FEMA was not approved,” Cuomo said in a press conference at the site where the firehouse will be built. “We are going to help you cover that shortfall so you can build the firehouse that you need in Keene.”
The $640,000 is broken up into $300,000 needed to purchase the new land for the site and the $340,000 that was lost in FEMA funding. Both came through the state Office of Community Renewal.
“We had a problem here that the money that was supposed to be coming was no longer coming,” state Senator Betty Little said. “So we reached out to our friend, the Governor, and he once again came to help.”
In announcing the award, Cuomo said that he could remember two things clearly about the past year.
“The first image that will always stay in my mind is the devastating power of mother nature,” Cuomo said. “Streams and brooks rose up and consumed buildings, cutting the old firehouse in half. It was breathtaking and frightening to see.
“The second is in our response to what has happened,” the Governor continued. “To have people come together, to see the acts of heroism and unselfishness, and to see the spirit of community that was alive and well and present with neighbors helping neighbors.”
Keene Supervisor Bill Ferebee said that town was appreciative of the help from the state.
“It has been a long road and there is still a lot of work to do, but the state and the Governor have once again stepped up to help us,” Ferebee said. “We have recovered well, but only because of the work that has been done by this community, that has worked together, and the help of the state.”
Jay Supervisor and Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas said the funding help was just another way Cuomo demonstrated his concern for the North Country in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.
“He has shown the North Country much affection and much respect,” Douglas said. “He has taken the unprecedented steps to make sure that the communities here have received the support that they needed in trying to rebuild.”
On the topic of rebuilding, Keene Volunteer Fire Department Chief John Whitney said the firehouse project would move as quickly as possible.
“We are going to start the process to get into the ground as soon as we can,” Whitney said. “We are very appreciative to the Governor because he has again stepped up to take care of business. He told us at a meeting shortly after the storm that he was going to do everything that he could and that we would rebuild the firehouse, and he has proven to be a man of his word.”
Whitney said that the organization hopes to have a roof on the new facility by December.