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Grant fire hydrant funds

The most effective, courageous firefighters in the world can do little to save property — and lives — without water. In municipalities, that requires that all fire hydrants must be kept in good repair.

At least 14 of them in the village of Woodsfield need to be replaced. Municipal officials are seeking a $194,900 grant for the purpose, through the federal Community Development Block Grant Critical Infrastructure Program.

One thing is obvious: Working fire hydrants are critical infrastructure.

Woodsfield definitely can place a check mark in that box on the application.

In rural areas such as our own, fire departments may have to travel many miles between the communities they serve. When fire hydrants fail, that means water must be trucked in to battle a blaze — and firefighters may have to travel many miles in order to fill the tanks on their trucks. With every mile driven, precious time is lost.

Also obvious, in this case, is need.

The CDBG program targets communities with substantial numbers of low- and moderate-income residents. All of Monroe County, which has the highest unemployment rate in the Buckeye State, should meet that requirement.

Woodsfield officials plan to do their part, providing $21,650 for the hydrant replacement project. That amounts to one-tenth of the total cost of the project — and to a fairly large monetary commitment for a relatively small community. Woodsfield had a population of 2,236 residents in 2018, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. So, $21,650 amounts to nearly $10 per person being contributed to the effort.

Federal officials should approve the CDBG grant to Woodsfield as quickly as possible. The sooner money is available to replace faulty hydrants, the sooner Woodsfield residents and business owners can rest easy about the threat of fire.

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