Harshbarger Visits St. James Volunteer Fire Department

The St. James Volunteer Fire Department fire chief, Isaac Ottinger, showed off a new (to them) fire engine, recently built fire hall, and equipment purchased with a federal grant to U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger during her visit to the station in the St. James community Wednesday afternoon.

The fire chief said the 1992 36-foot-long E-1 fire engine was purchased used, and in very good shape, from the Widewater Volunteer Fire Department in Stafford County in Virginia for $7,000.

In addition, an anonymous donor gave $1,000, meaning the bright red fire engine, one of four firefighting units at the station, only cost the fire department $6,000.

“There’s nothing wrong with it,” Ottinger said proudly.

The new fire hall, which is essentially a garage, was built in mid-2020 in order to accommodate the new, larger fire trucks that no longer fit in the existing, decades-old fire hall.

The new building, which is 40-feet wide by 40-feet long, has two bays and cost $55,000 to build, he said.

“It gave us the capability to get bigger and longer trucks,” Ottinger said of the new fire hall.

Ottinger, accompanied by Greene County Sheriff Wesley Holt, who is a firefighter at the St. James station, as well, showed the congresswoman what a $95,210 in FEMA Assistance to Firefighters grant (AFG grant) in 2021 purchased for the fire station.

Laid out on a table between Ottinger and Holt on one side, and Harshbarger on the other side, was an air pack, or air bottle, and a new mask.

All told, said Ottinger, the AFG grant allowed for the purchase of 13 air packs and 24 masks for firefighters.

Ottinger explained that the grant had a 5 percent match due, which another grant through the State of Tennessee picked up at a cost of $4,760.

Harshbarger looked at a tanker truck in the new fire hall, the newest one that was parked in front of the hall, and two other units parked in the still functioning older fire hall.

Afterwards, Harshbarger answered questions from a Greeneville Sun reporter.

When asked what was going on in Washington D.C. politics, she first replied, “Not much, because I’m not there. I’m here.”

But then she said, “We’ll have the appropriations bills (that fund the federal government) to go through. There’s a problem 30 of us (Republicans) have who say we shouldn’t do business as usual."

“They want us to vote on a Continuing Resolution, but no. (That’s not a) deterrent for them” to cut federal funding.

“If we do anything, it’s got to be tied to a border bill to stop the influx of illegal immigrants,” she said. “There’s so much wrong with this government, and I’m not going to stand for it. It’s criminal what’s going on in the White House. Why would they send money to Ukraine when we have people who can’t buy gas or groceries? The economy is not doing good.”

Harshbarger also said, “Mark Twain said it best: ‘Common sense is not very common.’ I’m trying to bring back common sense.”

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://harshbarger.house.gov/media/in-the-news/harshbarger-visits-st-james-volunteer-fire-department