Scotty Youngblood of the Arkansas Forestry Commission awarded grant checks in the amount of $1,000 to: Charles Salts, chief of Cato VFD; Joe Gibson, asst. chief of Saltillo VFD; Randel Green, asst. chief of 286 East VFD; Larry Sanders, asst. chief of 286 East VFD.

The Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Program money is authorized under the Volunteer Fire Assistance Act, and the National Fire Plan, according to John Blackburn, Rural Fire Protection administrator.

Forestry Commission officials administer the program to Rural Fire Departments, (10,000 in population or less, and 75 percent volunteer) to purchase fire-fighting equipment.

The purpose of this program is to improve training and equip local forces to prevent, control, and suppress fires in rural areas.

Applicants seeking a VFA grant from the Forestry Commission must provide a 1 to 1 match ($2,000 equipment purchase to qualify for $1,000 grant).

Forestry Commission officials solicit cost-share grant proposals from fire departments that serve communities of 10,000 people or fewer, review the grant proposals, and consider statewide needs when determining awards. The U.S. Forest Service provides the funding and oversight for the program.