By Josh Lemons
When funds are short, as is normally the case with smaller municipalities, grants are crucial to help those towns with water, sewer, parks and road upgrades and maintenance.
Sharon, Tennessee is one of these towns. And while these grants are great for the citizens they serve, often times the people sworn to protect those people are excluded from receiving any money that has been ear-marked for other projects.
That’s why when Sharon Interim Police Chief and Fire Chief Gary Eddings sees grants that can apply to first responders, he jumps on the opportunity.
Recently, all police and fire departments have moved to digital, scrapping the old analog radios for the modern upgrades. Eddings said, through the efforts of two grants writers, the police department was given $5,000 to make the required upgrades to the radio system.
In addition, the police department was awarded $63,195 as part of a violent crimes state grant to help upgrade equipment for both the vehicles in the fleet as well as the officers on staff.
“We’ve never had funds through the city budget committee to replace old and worn-out equipment,” Eddings said. “Sharon gets grants but they’re for sewer and water upgrades and the parks, which is desperately needed because we don’t have that kind of money.”
With that grant money, which is 100 percent paid, Eddings said the department was able to purchase three in-car and three portable radios for the officers. He said the department had previously used grant funding to upgrade two of the portables.
“So, we’re all set. We have all of our radios programmed and installed in the vehicles now,” Eddings said. “That was a big plus getting that $5,000 grant and part of that grant was the Violent Crimes Grant.”
The Violent Crimes Grant helped Eddings and the department purchase a new, fully-equipped new patrol car, three new bullet proof vests, upgrades to their radar equipment, six all new body cameras for each officer that is on patrol, new in-car cameras as well as three new tasers with an estimated $2,000 available funds left on the grant.
“They (the government) had said initially that they wanted us to spent the entire amount,” Eddings said. “We needed another in-car digital radar and another portable [radar].
“I sent in for an amendment and they graciously gave me the amendment for $1,800 for those two radios.”
Eddings said that it would not have been possible with out the grant writers for the state of Tennessee, Senior Project Management Specialist Aimme Curley and Project Management Specialist Katelyn Cotriss.
Eddings said that money has helped bring the department’s equipment up to the standards that other, quite-often bigger municipalities have when it comes to keeping their citizens safe.
“That has really helped put us in a good position at the Sharon Police Department.”
Eddings wrote a letter to Senator John Stevens, Tandy Darby and Governor Bill Lee thanking them for their help with the grant funding.
But, he also spoke in the letter about how much impact can be made to small municipalities with funds and said that any of these upgrades would not have been possible without the state and federal assistance.
“This new equipment has been a great need for many years, and it would not have been possible for us to purchase without the grant,” Eddings said. “In short, the $63,195 grant has completely revitalized The Sharon Police Department.
“When compared to CDBG grants for water, sewer, etc., which are upwards of $500,000, this grant is small, but it has made such a difference for us.”