Money made available to Washington County government through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act will be distributed to fire departments with paid personnel who apply for it, and members of the Washington County Board of Commissioners gathered in North Strabane Township to note $406,181 is available.

Eligible for reimbursement through the CARES Act are expenses related to COVID-19 from March through December of this year, such as payroll, public safety measures, communications and purchase and distribution of personal protective equipment.

Fire departments along Washington County’s Route 19 corridor were represented Wednesday morning.

Peters Township Fire Chief Michael McLaughlin said if a member of the department is tested for coronavirus, that translates into a four-day absence to await test results.

South Strabane Fire Chief Scott Reese stands at the helm of a department employing nine paid firefighters during daylight and afternoon shifts at the Oak Spring Road and Pancake stations from Mondays through Fridays.

“We would like to get into weekends and evenings, but it’s a matter of mathematics and numbers,” Reese said. “Volunteers are generally available more on weekends. It’s hard to get volunteers during the work week.”

With the addition of its latest recruit, South Strabane will have 13 volunteers.

“I know you don’t ask for much, but you asked for better connectivity and radios,” said Commissioner Nick Sherman. North Strabane Fire Chief Mark Grimm expressed his appreciation.

Commission Chairman Diana Irey Vaughan thanked “individuals who respond when no one else wants to.”

She noted Grimm is a member of the county’s newly formed First Responder/Public Safety Board.

Other members are Brian Bark, D.J. Johnson, Tom Wilkinson, Brad Simms, Eric Graham, Steve Emery, Clyde Wilhelm, Bobby Whiten, David Kegel and Douglas E. Grimes.

The board is scheduled to meet Oct. 28.

Commission Vice Chairman Larry Maggi, who is taking part in a novel coronavirus vaccine trial with Pfizer Inc. in Columbus, Ohio, said he’ll be returning to the state’s capital in December for his fifth visit.

He hasn’t been told if he’s receiving a vaccine or a placebo, but so far, he’s experienced no adverse reactions.

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