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HILLSVILLE ― Hillsville Rescue Squad, which has been dying a slow death for years, will linger no more after disbursing its funds on March 20.
Many witnesses gathered in the offices of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce to witness the agency's last act.
As a kind of last will and testament, long-time members of the defunct rescue squad handed out $3,000 checks to benefit non-profit groups based in the Twin Counties.
"Hillsville Rescue Squad helped a bunch of people over the years," squad officer Larry South said to the packed room in the court house. "We are going to be able to help one more time with checks for $3,000…."
The health of the rescue squad suddenly declined years ago after a member used an ambulance to move furniture and local officials padlocked its headquarters.
Continuing hopes for revival kept the rescue squad on life support for a long time.
Controversy over the main station on Main Street, as well as a substation, drove final nails into the squad's coffin.
The main station will go up for auction April 6. The incorporation is terminated. The supplies and equipment have been sold off. One ambulance got converted to a mobile command center for Hillsville Police Department and the substation reverted to the property owner.
(See: http://www.galaxgazette.com/content/officers-working-disband-hillsville-... http://www.galaxgazette.com/content/hillsville-citizen-raises-rescue-squ... http://www.galaxgazette.com/content/town-calls-hillsville-rescue-disband; http://www.galaxgazette.com/content/council-debates-rescue-squads-existence.)
All that remained was to clear out the squad's bank accounts, for which squad volunteers decided to accept grant requests from area non-profits.
Long-time volunteers Arlene Martin and Frieda Jessup handed out checks to each recipient ― the Carroll Christmas Fund, the Carroll Chamber of Commerce, the Carroll Wellness Center, the Galax Volunteer Fire Department, Gospel Light Christian Camp, the Hale-Wilkinson-Carter Home Foundation, Galax Hope House, the Lions Club, Tri-Area Pregnancy Resource Center, Twin County Humane Society, Twin County Prevention Coalition and the Grover King Veterans of Foreign Wars Post III5.
South noted that others had applied but didn't meet all the requests for information, including confirmation of non-profit status, by the deadline.
Before representatives of each agency left, the rescue squad representatives had them sign a commitment to spend the funds on community activities.
South also joked after dividing up the funds 12 ways with $3,000 each, there was $6.20 leftover, which volunteers raffled off as a bonus.
Mallory South selected a number randomly and Elizabeth Huff accepted the extra dollars for the Carter Home foundation.
(Huff joked that the foundation would buy an extra paintbrush.)
Galax Volunteer Fire Department will use the funds as part of a local match for a $160,000 grant for new air packs, Chief David Hankley said.
The Lion's Clubs will put the $3,000 towards its $15,000 goal to buy vision screening devices, said Hillsville member Bill Webb. That puts the fundraising total at $2,500.
The Carroll Wellness Center applied for funds to put towards children's swimming lessons in cooperation with the American Red Cross and fitness and nutrition summer camp, according to information shared with The Gazette.
(Volunteers said that some agencies applied for more than one grant, but the committee in charge of disbursing the funds just awarded one grant and let the recipients decide how to put it towards their programs.)
The Grover King VFW requested funds to buy 200 new chairs for the post and for murals and plaques to honor Afghanistan and Iraq veterans.
"Our grant request of $2,500 is being requested for the explicit purpose of continuing our efforts to convince our local citizens to 'Shop at Home' and point out to them the many great businesses we have in Hillsville/Carroll County and the enormous variety of products and services they offer," according to the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce's application.
The Carter home foundation requested funds to continue renovations inside the home of industrialist George L. Carter on Main Street, specifically painting on the third floor.
Hope House will put funds towards food, medications, personal care items and clothing for the homeless people it helps.
"The Twin County Humane Society is requesting help to fund programs for our local schools to teach students about the best ways to care for household pets and other animals," said the letter written by teacher Carolyn Richardson for the local Humane Society chapter. "I feel the best way to cut down on unwanted dogs and cats … as well as the euthanasia rate for homeless animals is by teaching our children the proper ways to care for animals."
Tri-Area Pregnancy Resource Center will use the funds for its "Earn While You Learn" program.
The Twin County Prevention Coalition application said it would use its funds for more education efforts.