Montcalm County Homeland Security snow cone machine remains unused


Posted by Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 10:39 pm on Friday, July 06 2012

This Arctic Blast Sno-Cone machine, worth $900, hasn’t been used once since it arrived in Montcalm County last winter as part of a federal grant. — File photo

Temps broke the 100-degree mark this week.

More than 9,000 Montcalm County residents were without power after a Thursday morning windstorm.

The annual Montcalm County 4-H Fair took place amid some of the hottest weather anyone can remember. Special plans had to be made to make sure youths and animals stayed hydrated.

A major Greenville business was destroyed in a fire that took 75 firefighters from 11 fire departments to extinguish — plus a weeklong investigation by a federal agency.

But Montcalm County’s snow cone machine remains unused.

Montcalm County received a $900 Arctic Blast Sno-Cone machine last year as part of a grant from the Michigan Homeland Security Program.

The West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission (WMSRDC) is a federal- and state-designated agency responsible for managing and administrating the homeland security program in Montcalm County and 12 other counties – Clare, Ionia, Isabella, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola and Ottawa counties.

The WMSRDC purchased and transferred homeland security equipment to all 13 counties last winter, including 13 snow cone machines at a total cost of $11,700. The request for a snow cone machine came from one county (not Montcalm County), but all 13 counties received a snow cone machine as a result.

The Michigan Homeland Security Grant Program’s Allowable Justification document, dated May 9, 2011, stated that the “ice-shaving machines” could be used to make ice to prevent heat-related illnesses during emergencies, treat injuries and provide snow cones as an outreach at promotional events.

Clare and Ionia county officials almost immediately decided to return their snow cone machines, believing it sent the wrong message to taxpayers.

Lake County officials used their snow cone machine at Medical Reserve Corps open houses in conjunction with recruiting efforts and at an Emergency Management fire safety outreach event. Isabella County officials recently used their snow cone machine during a search for a missing 4-year-old boy.

David Feldpausch, director of Montcalm County Emergency Medical Services, as well as the Emergency Management coordinator for Montcalm County, said the snow cone machine could have been used at the June 22 fire at Nelson’s Speed Shop north of Greenville, but he was not aware the destructive fire had occurred until the following morning. The American Red Cross and Salvation Army responded to the scene of that fire with drinks and food for the numerous firefighters.

“It has not been used to date,” said Feldpausch of the snow cone machine. “I think many people are reluctant to ask to use it because of the stigma created around it before it was able to be used as it was approved in the grant guidance. Other times they just forget we have it, like at the Nelson’s fire. Its primary use was for responder rehabilitation and we have not had any significant outdoor incidents.”

The Stanton Fire Corps has requested use of Montcalm County’s snow cone machine at the annual Stanton Old-Fashioned Days festival Aug. 8-12 for volunteer recruitment and citizen preparedness, according to Feldpausch. However, the Stanton Fire Corps may rent a snow cone machine instead, since they want to have a fundraiser at the festival and Feldpausch cannot allow them to charge anyone while using the grant-funded machine.

Feldpausch said the machine’s use was requested several times last winter for promotional events, but those events did not align with grant guidelines.

Feldpausch said the machine was not used during hot weather at the Montcalm County 4-H Fair or even more recently during power outages amid 100-plus degree temps, as the machine’s primary use would be by Citizen Corps groups and they did not request to use it.

“I want to see it used, but only if it clearly fits into the grant guidance for which it was purchased,” Feldpausch said.

So for now, the snow cone machine continues to remain in storage in the Montcalm County Emergency Services building in Stanton.

 

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