Fundraiser nets $30,000 for new JFD ladder truck
The Jamestown Fire Department is awaiting the arrival of its more than $1 million new ladder truck, expected here this month.
The new truck replaces one that was owned by the state of North Dakota for use at the North Dakota State Hospital and off the hospital campus by JFD that failed and ultimately was not replaced.
The money to purchase the new truck came from the Fire Department’s equipment replacement fund, and the department is trying to raise money toward replenishing that fund.
“If we have another truck go down we’re going to be in the same situation,” said Jim Reuther, fire chief.
Mike Harris, owner of IDK Bar & Grill in Jamestown, and Shane Moran, owner of Stutsman County Wood Works, Courtenay, are longtime friends. Harris knew the Fire Department didn’t have its annual pancake breakfast fundraiser during the summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, so after talking about that with Moran, he decided to ask Reuther if there was a way to help out.
“Unfortunately, the pandemic has kind of shot things down, what our intentions were (in fundraising) …,” Reuther said. “We still need to raise a certain amount of money.”
The equipment replacement fund is important to the department, which has 11 vehicles to maintain, not including the ladder truck. Some truck replacements have been pushed back to a later time, Reuther said.
The plan is to repay the equipment replacement funds that were used for the new truck through the city of Jamestown (budgeting through the equipment replacement fund), donations and funding through the state that would need approval from the North Dakota Legislature.
“If all things would go together, a third, a third and a third (from each), that would be done,” Reuther said. “But none of that’s a guarantee. So if we get an engine that goes down - one of our pumpers - we could be right back in the same situation (when the original ladder truck stopped working).”
After speaking with Reuther, Harris decided to do a fundraiser for the Fire Department. Moran, who makes cornhole board sets at his business, offered to make two for the fundraiser, and Harris approached Progress Enterprises for $2,500 in matching gaming funds.
“We have the charitable gaming casino inside IDK ... and we’ve partnered with him (Harris) for years,” said Jeff Paiement, executive director of Progress Enterprises.
Paiement was on board with the fundraiser, more than Harris expected.
“They came back and said they’d match up to $15,000,” Harris said. “I had asked them for just a small amount, actually, and they came back with that. I was quite shocked … once they came back with that, then it was like, ‘well, we have to raise $15,000 no matter what.’ I mean, if someone’s going to match that, we can get $30,000 ….”
Progress Enterprises provides programs and services for the mentally ill. It operates transitional living homes, crisis residential units and community centers, Paiement said.
“We have charitable gaming and that’s our source of fundraising,” he said. “... we’ve been in the city for a long time and the city needed some help, so we decided to step up and help.”
On Oct. 23, Harris and Moran presented the funds and a symbolic check for $30,000 to Reuther at the Fire Department. IDK and Stutsman County Wood Works raised $10,000 selling $25 squares to win the cornhole boards that Moran made and a wooden flag made by Marty Walters of MC3Works. R.M. Stoudt donated $5,000 to the fundraiser.
Other prizes were donated as well, Harris said.
“It took months,” Harris said, to raise the funds. He said some people not only bought squares, they also donated extra money to the cause.
“They knew how important it was to the community,” he said. “It wasn’t about winning a cornhole board, yeah, it’s fun to win prizes and things like that, but the ultimate goal at the end of this is so everybody could feel a sense of pride in being able to help the community. Times are extremely tough right now with COVID and I think as a community, we obviously need to come together. I think that’s the biggest thing.
“That’s kind of what this shows,” Harris said. “To raise that kind of money during these type of times goes to show you how strong our community has really grown through this.”
Harris said the new truck is important not just for Jamestown but the larger community.
“We’ve never had anything with, you know, a ladder that goes 101 feet and infrared and all these things that can help save lives, not only just putting out fires but can save lives for people too,” he said.
Reuther said the donation was “huge” for the department’s fundraising efforts.
“If we don’t have the entire funds ... then we still have to go back to the taxpayers,” he said. “Basically, it’s taking a burden off the taxpayers, the more that we get in this way. And that’s one thing we did not want to do when we started this … our intentions were not to put this on the taxpayers. We were hoping we could do a third and a third and a third.”
Not only have donations come from various sources in Jamestown but also from around Stutsman County, Reuther said.
“It’s amazing how this has turned out to be, not just a city of Jamestown but a whole community,” he said.
The department has raised about $110,000 through donations and fundraisers including the recent donation by IDK Bar & Grill and Stutsman County Wood Works.
“We have a ways to go,” Reuther said.
Any donation makes a difference, he said.
“Every little bit helps,” Reuther said. “Every little bit helps. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dollar or a hundred dollars or whatever it may be. Every bit helps toward this fund.”