Benton Harbor, Niles awarded money to help support first responders

Published: May. 20, 2022 at 5:30 PM EDT
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BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. (WNDU) - Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says more than 60 communities in Michigan will receive first responder grants.

More than $5 million dollars will be split up by the communities.

Here in Michiana, the city of Benton Harbor will receive $100,000 and the city of Niles will receive over $41,000.

The governor’s office says this money will be used to help train and recruit new police officers, fire fighters, and paramedics.

Press Release from the Michigan Executive Office of the Governor:

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that more than 60 Michigan communities will soon begin receiving awards from the $5 million First Responder Training and Grant Program.

“Michigan’s first responders put their lives on the line to keep us all safe and we must have their backs,” Governor Whitmer said. “Today’s grants will help more than 60 communities across Michigan train and recruit first responders. And in my budget for next fiscal year, I’ve proposed additional funds to help communities hire and train even more first responders including firefighters, police officers, paramedics, and EMTs. Let’s keep working together to keep Michiganders safe.”

As a part of the First Responder Training and Recruitment Grant Program, all Michigan cities, villages, townships, counties or fire authorities were eligible to apply for a grant related to first responder training and recruitment. First responders are police officers, firefighters, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), paramedics and local unit of government corrections officers.

The grant program supports efforts of local governments to expand recruitment, improve training, and provide additional professional development and support to first responders in local governments.

“Marquette County is very grateful to receive training and recruitment funds from the Michigan Department of Treasury,” Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt said. “The Sheriff’s office has experienced unprecedented turnover in recent years in both the corrections and road patrol divisions. Retirements, relocations, and the overall difficult nature of this line of work have contributed to a loss of valuable employees. These funds will allow us to recruit new candidates and train them to continue to provide exemplary public safety services throughout Marquette County.”

“In rural communities first responders can be the difference between life and death, or saving a family home,” said Nathan W. Skibbe, supervisor of the Charter Township of Alpena. “Being awarded this grant gives our team the means to maintain the highest level of training for the betterment of our citizens.

“The First Responder Training and Recruitment Grant is an important aspect of the City’s intentional effort to identify, recruit, and hire high-quality worthy candidates from the amazing community that is Muskegon Heights,” said Troy L. Bell, city manager of Muskegon Heights. “The funding provided through the First Responder Training and Recruitment Grant is critically important to the viability and permanency of the City’s local hire program and initiative.”

“This grant will enable Bay City Department of Public Safety to find creative ways to recruit, train and provide professional development for our everyday heroes to keep our community safe,” said Dana Muscott, city manager of Bay City. “We are appreciative of the support and investment in our first responders at the local government level.”

“The city of Leslie is very grateful for the First Responder Training and Recruitment grant from the state of Michigan,” said Ron Bogart, city manager of Leslie. “The Leslie Fire Department is a joint department between the city of Leslie and Leslie Township with a small roster of firefighters. We depend heavily on mutual aid from surrounding departments. We will be using the grant dollars for training on agricultural rescue, vehicle extraction rescue, chimney fire suppression and trench rescue. Being in a rural area, we feel that these types of training will benefit our community and surrounding communities if an unfortunate accident did happen.”

“The city of Hamtramck is thankful for our police officers and firefighters who do so much every day to protect, serve and care for our community,” Hamtramck Mayor Amer Ghalib said. “We are grateful for the support from the state of Michigan for the award of the $100,000 first responder grant which will assist our public safety departments to have the tools they need to provide quality service to the city of Hamtramck and our residents.”

Applications were selected for funding by the Michigan Department of Treasury based on program purpose, eligibility and criteria. Projects are funded on a reimbursement basis.

“Pushing these dollars to our communities will help with training the next generation of first responders,” State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said. “Our priority will be to make payments to communities as soon as practical. Community leaders with questions about their grants should reach out to us to navigate the reimbursement process.”

To learn more about the First Responder Training and Recruitment Grant Program, go to

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