By ERIC X. VICCARO
The city of Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen approved two purchases for the Ste. Genevieve Volunteer Fire Department during last Thursday’s regularly scheduled meeting.
Two weeks ago, Ste. Genevieve fire chief Ken Steiger requested the board of aldermen reject a bid for four sets of turnout gear in the hopes of finding a better deal.
And that’s exactly what Steiger was able to accomplish.
The board approved four sets of turnout gear at a cost of $9,400 from Sentinel Emergency Solutions based in Arnold – a savings of $1,200 from the previous bid.
The bid was through NPPGov, a national public procurement cooperative, which includes fire departments as an eligible organization for its programs.
Turnout gear is personal protective equipment used by firefighters – including trousers, boots and jackets – plus other associated gear.
The aldermen also accepted the purchase of a 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 4×4 double cab from Don Brown Chevrolet of St. Louis.
The purchase, at a cost of $31,935, was made through the state of Missouri’s Cooperative Procurement Program.
The new vehicle will serve as the fire department’s brush truck, which are versatile for fighting fires large and small in off-road situations – important noting that Ste. Genevieve County is more rural than urban.
This will replace a 1995 low-mileage Chevrolet unit.
“The old truck is going to move to the street department (for use),” Ste. Genevieve city administrator Happy Welch told the Herald during an interview last Friday.
Steiger also provided the board with his customary monthly operations report, and things are looking up in terms of personnel.
“I have one application through background check and going to interview,” Steiger said. “One more application was expected (last week), one 17-1/2-year old that is going to be invited to attend trainings to see what we are about, and one person that just moved to town and wants time to get settled in before applying.”
Steiger said training will be moving back to in-person soon because he wants personnel to handle the tools of the trade more often. The annual Winter Fire School, however, was switched to online with several enrolled in classes.
The fire department responded to 19 emergency calls in February, Steiger reported. So far in 2021, calls are down 17 from last year.
There also were talks about the KnoxBox program, brought up by Ward 4 Alderman Joe Prince.
A KnoxBox is a tamper-resistant box that contains a special key designed to provide firefighters entry into a building without busting down a door.
There was a recent issue with an unreported apartment complex not having a KnoxBox.
“We now have installed 35 boxes in the city, and five are waiting to be installed,” Steiger said. Boxes were ordered and shipped to Angstrom Manufacturing and Mid-State Wood Products, and more will be installed at the Windcrest Apartments. and Ste. Genevieve Do-It Center.
Ste. Genevieve County Health Department administrator Jennifer Mueller was present to discuss the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
Mueller reported the county had just three active cases as of Wednesday, March 10, with 1,741 overall confirmed ones.
Mueller said the county is still receiving just the Moderna-type of vaccine.
She said it was unclear if the county would receive the recently approved Johnson & Johnson brand vaccine, which comes in both one- and two-dose forms.
According to the Show-Me Strong Recovery Plan website, showmestrong.mo.gov, 225,725 vaccine doses were administered across the state during a seven-day period ending March 14.
Ste. Genevieve County stands at 18.6 percent of the population initiating vaccination.
“That’s one of the highest numbers in the state,” Mueller beamed.
Ward 1 Alderwoman Susie Johnson asked if the department is still strongly encouraging mask-wearing, and Mueller responded, “Yes.”
There were discussions on when the next big vaccination event will happen in the county, and the waiting list continues growing exponentially.
Mueller reported that Ste. Genevieve R-II school district faculty members had begun receiving vaccinations.
Mayor Paul Hassler asked whether the city’s nursing home staff and residents have received both doses of the vaccine, which was confirmed.
Mueller urged people on the waiting list to answer the health department’s phone calls regarding their vaccination appointments.
The vaccination process has been a joint effort between the health department and Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital.
Welch, during his administrator’s report, noted the latest COVID spending-related bill passed the U.S. Senate recently – with Ste. Genevieve County estimated to receive more than $3 million. The National League of Cities reports the city will receive an estimated $813,000.