By Brooke Porter, Building Kentucky
Ford Motor Company donated nearly $42,000 to the Glendale Volunteer Fire Department, generated from the proceeds of timber sales harvested at its BlueOval SK Battery Park site.
The donation increases the department’s annual average budget of $80,000 by more than 50 percent.
“It’s awesome that they are willing to help out the fire department, to help our community,” said Dave Black, Glendale volunteer fire chief.
The donation came as a surprise to Chief Black, who had visited the BlueOval SK Battery Park site multiple times to meet with the construction team.
“They called one day and told us they were coming up with a plan to give us money from the timber coming off the property,” he said.
Rural fire departments such as Glendale’s frequently rely on volunteers because they do not have the budget to keep a staff of full-time firefighters. The Glendale Volunteer Fire Department, with 27 volunteers, serves the small town’s 250 residents, as well as southern Hardin County. Glendale’s firefighters are also called to help with accidents along a stretch of Interstate 65. The Glendale Volunteer Fire Department’s budget for equipment and upkeep often comes from fundraisers.
Site prep for the BlueOval SK Battery Park is underway, including the removal of necessary trees on the property. Oftentimes, trees removed from construction sites are mulched, but the Ford BlueOval SK Battery Park construction team saw an opportunity for the maple, oak and black walnut logs to help the local community.
“We want to do everything the right way at BlueOval SK Battery Park, from the way we build the battery plants to the relationship we create with the community,” said Eric Grubb, new footprint construction director for Ford Motor Company. “We noticed some of the trees on site could be good construction wood. So, we offered the trees up to a local timber company to buy with any proceeds going directly to the volunteer fire department.”
A portion of the donation has been used to purchase an ATV to help the department fight remote fires that are difficult to access with large firefighting vehicles. The donation will also be used to maintain equipment and help the department update firefighting gear. Outfitting a firefighter can cost $3,000, Chief Black said, and that equipment must be updated every 10 years.
“It will go a long way in purchasing equipment to keep our firefighters, our men and women, safe,” said Mike Bell, a longtime Glendale resident and community leader.
This isn’t the first contribution Ford has made to Glendale. The Ford Fund, Ford’s philanthropic arm, gave Glendale residents a $20,000 grant to help improve infrastructure in the town, such as city sidewalks and the city park.
“The ‘Leaning Gazebo of Glendale’ in our town park has been restored with the money and it’s now just beautiful,” Bell said.
In September 2021, Ford and SK innovation announced plans to build BlueOval SK Battery Park near Glendale. The $5.8 billion investment by Ford and SK includes two new 43 GWh battery plants delivering power for the next generation of Ford and Lincoln battery electric vehicles. The battery plants will bring 5,000 new jobs to the state.
The project has been honored with several awards, including Kentucky’s third Area Development Gold Shovel award in six years naming Ford Motor Company and SK Innovation’s investment to the Manufacturing Projects of the Year. The investment was also recognized in Site Selection magazine’s Governor’s Cup awards, racking up a litany of achievements.