Backup power set for Oppenheim-Ephratah St. Johnsville high school

FONDA — Grant funds to place a backup power system at the Oppenheim-Ephratah St. Johnsville Central School District’s high school were awarded Tuesday night by the Montgomery County Legislature. The grant was  awarded to the County Emergency Management Office to install the unit.

The $360,000 grant from the Dormitory Authority State of New York, State and Municipal Facilities Program, will be used to purchase and install an emergency power generator at the high school. Emergency Management Director Jeff Smith said the grant started as a New York Rising Project, but funding for the project came through DASNY in the form of a SAM grant.

“The St. Johnsville High School does not have backup power at the current time,” Smith said. “But at the completion of this project, every one of our Red Cross approved shelters will have backup power.”

Smith said there are a total of nine official Red Cross shelters in the county. Those are located at Fulton-Montgomery Community College, Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES, in  five district schools located in Montgomery County, and at the town buildings in Amsterdam and Florida.

Currently, generators are being installed at an Amsterdam school.

David Halloran, OESJ superintendent, said the school district has been working closely with Smith and is excited for the opportunity to have the generator installed.

“Not only will it make our facility a viable emergency shelter for the community in the years ahead, but it will also allow us to run our freezers and/or heaters in the event of power outrages,” Halloran said. “It really is a win-win situation. We are appreciative of the county’s efforts to secure the grant.”

Matthew Ossenfort, Montgomery County Executive, said the installation of the emergency generators fills a need that was identified early in the New York Rising Project plan.

“This is a good testament to having a sound planning process, and identifying what greater needs are,” Ossenfort said.

These approved shelters are used for anything from train derailment to tornadoes, and Ossenfort said he has received messages from constituents asking about sheltering places in St. Johnsville.

“This is all a part of a bigger plan,” Ossenfort said. “It’s just a part of the overall priority that we have put on public safety.”

Opal Jessica Bogdan covers rural Fulton County and can be reached at [email protected]

By Patricia Older

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