LCRA and Bluebonnet award $50,000 to Winchester Area VFD


LCRA and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative present a $50,000 grant to the Winchester Area Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) for a new fire and first responder truck. This grant is part of LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. Pictured, in the front row, from left to right, are: Clayton Kleiber, Winchester Area VFD vice president; Mark Johnson, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative representative; Sherry Murphy, Winchester Area VFD treasurer; Larry Herzog, Winchester Area VFD assistant chief; Eddie Schneider, Winchester Area VFD chief; Ron Kaiser, Winchester Area VFD secretary; Lori A. Berger, LCRA Board member; and Kate Holman, LCRA representative. In the back row are: Nate Hill, Winchester Area VFD training director; Roger Loewe, firefighter; Tom Atkins, firefighter; and Russell Jurk, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative Board member.

The Winchester Area Volunteer Fire Department will be equipped with a new truck with wild-land firefighting capabilities thanks to a $50,000 community development grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative.

The grant will enable Winchester Area VFD to buy the new fire and first responder truck outfitted with a compressed air foam system. The use of foam to fight fires is more effective on a wider variety of fires than water, and fires are less likely to rekindle because the foam blankets burned areas instead of running off. The foam system also reduces the time it takes to extinguish a fire, potentially saving more property and making conditions safer for firefighters by decreasing the time they spend battling a blaze.

The addition of the response truck also will allow Winchester Area VFD to house its fleet at two locations to serve its coverage area better.

“We will be able to house fire and first-response vehicles on both sides of the railroad track that divides our service territory,” said Winchester Area VFD Fire Chief Eddie Schneider. “With the new location almost in the center of our area, we can improve our response times and worry less about the chances of a train preventing us from reaching an emergency.”

The new, centrally housed brush truck will be an important addition to the Winchester community, located in Fayette County, which has rural terrain and an abundance of pine trees. Those characteristics are similar to those found in the nearby Bastrop area, which in 2011 experienced the most destructive wild-land fire in Texas history.

“We don’t have many structure fires; we respond primarily to wild-land fire calls for help,” Schneider said. “We provide fire and rescue protection to a 53-square-mile area with a lot of farms and ranches. This truck also will be available for other fire departments with which we have mutual aid agreements in Fayette, Lee and Bastrop counties.
“Our community values the services we provide and help support us financially, too,” he said. “We are very appreciative of the help they have given us by raising matching funds we need for the grant. We still need more donations, but it would take a lot of fish fries to come up with the amount of money LCRA and Bluebonnet gave us with this grant, and we are grateful for it.” 

The community grant is one of a number of grants recently awarded through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. The program provides economic development and community assistance grants to cities, counties, volunteer fire departments, regional development councils and other nonprofit organizations in LCRA’s electric and water service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves. Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative is one of LCRA’s wholesale electric customers and a partner in the grant program.
Applications for the next round of grants are due July 31. More information is available at

About LCRA
The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating, delivering and transmitting electric power; ensuring a clean, reliable water supply; and offering access to nature at more than 40 parks, recreation areas and river access sites along the Texas Colorado River, from the Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to enhancing the lives of Texans through water stewardship, energy and community services. LCRA – a nonprofit public service agency created by the Texas Legislature – cannot levy taxes or receive tax money. For more information, visit

About Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative
Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative is one of the largest electric cooperatives in Texas and has been serving its members since 1939. Bluebonnet serves more than 88,000 meters and owns and maintains 11,000 miles of power lines, located across more than 3,800 square miles within 14 Central Texas counties. Bluebonnet’s service area stretches from Travis County to Washington County, and from Milam County to Gonzales County. For more information about Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, go to and follow the co-op on Facebook and Twitter.

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