$300,000 awarded for fire station expansion in Johnson County

More than $28,000 also awarded for road resurfacing

WITTENSVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ/PRESS RELEASE)On Friday, Gov. Andy Beshear awarded a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to Johnson County to expand and upgrade the W.R. Castle Fire Station.

Gov. Beshear also presented $28,144 in Kentucky Transportation Cabinet funding to Johnson County to resurface portions of Deboard Hollow Road.

“When we talk about investing in and making improvements to the basic services of government, that has to include supporting the work of our first responders, like the folks here at the W.R. Castle Fire Station,” Gov. Beshear said. “As Governor, I’ve had more opportunities than I ever imagined I might to see up close how important it is to have well-trained, well-equipped and well-supplied first responders. We need to step up for our heroes just as they always step up for us.”

According to the governor’s office, Johnson County Judge Executive Mark McKenzie, W.R. Castle Fire Department (WRCFD) Chief Paul Burchett, WRCFD Fire Department board chairman Paul Daniel, volunteer firefighters and other state and local leaders joined Gov. Beshear and his senior advisor, Rocky Adkins, for the presentation.

The CDBG grant, administered by the Department for Local Government, will fund a 2,000-square-foot addition to the current W.R. Castle Fire Station along U.S. Highway 23 near Wittensville, according to the governor’s office. The original structure was constructed in 1981. The new expansion will include the addition of a large training area, additional equipment storage, additional secure storage, office space and a working kitchen. The new training facility will allow the fire department to meet the increasing need for training in emergency services during the COVID-19 pandemic and allow the firefighters to safely socially distance during these training exercises. The site and facility will continue to be owned, operated, maintained and insured by the WRCFD.

“My late grandfather Charlie Wheeler was born in Paintsville in 1929 and spent some of the formative years of his life in Johnson County, which at the time was a bustling rail hub and center of commerce in Eastern Kentucky,” Sen. Phillip Wheeler, whose district includes Johnson County, said. “I am very excited to be Johnson County’s new state senator and to celebrate these important infrastructure investments, which will serve as a foundation for the economic revitalization of a county near a dear to my heart.”

“W.R. Castle Fire and Rescue is a very active all-volunteer department responding to an average of 150 calls annually,” Johnson County Judge Executive Mark McKenzie said. “Department leadership approached Johnson County about applying on their behalf for CDBG funds to renovate and expand their existing station in 2018. The department was awarded funds prior to COVID, but as a result of the increase in cost of construction materials, additional funds were needed to make the project a reality. The Department for Local Government recognizing both the need for the project and that it was ready to go to construction if the monies were in place, offered additional CDBG funding so that the project can now go forward. Johnson County and W.R. Fire and Rescue would like to thank Gov. Beshear for the additional award of funds and are looking forward to completing the new station very soon.”

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