What began as an informal conversation between community leaders about protecting the life and safety of residents has culminated in the signing of a formal Sister County agreement between Loudoun County, Virginia, and Holmes County, Mississippi, and in the delivery of a much-needed fire engine for Holmes County.
“The gratitude from the people of Holmes County that we received was truly remarkable,” said Loudoun Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis J. Randall. “A partnership between one of the richest counties and one of the poorest counties presents countless opportunities to learn from and help one another; we are so pleased that Loudoun’s retired fire engine will continue to benefit the public.”
In 2018, Chair Randall and then-Holmes County Supervisor Eddie J. Carthan met at a National Association of Counties (NACo) conference and discussed, among other things, the economic disparities between the two counties – Loudoun having one of the highest median incomes in the United States and Holmes County having one of the lowest. Concurrently, NACo began discussions that led to the creation of the Economic Mobility Leadership Network initiative, which connects counties of differing economic circumstances. In April 2019, the Loudoun Board of Supervisors approved a Sister County partnership agreement (PDF) between Loudoun and Holmes counties, which called on both counties to “work together for the mutual benefit of their citizens.”
The opportunity to help Holmes County with a pressing public safety need arose earlier this year when a 2008 Pierce/Dash fire engine in Loudoun County was moved to “surplus” status and replaced with a newer model. On March 1, 2022, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors agreed to sell the fire engine, which can cost as much as $700,000 new, to Holmes County for $25,000. The engine holds up to 500 gallons of water and can transport four firefighters.
On April 30, 2022, Chair Randall, Broad Run District Supervisor Sylvia Glass and Loudoun County Fire and Rescue (LCFR) Battalion Chief Adam Davis delivered the fully equipped fire engine to Holmes County. In addition, LCFR staff worked with firefighters in Holmes County to familiarize and train them with the fire engine and its equipment.
“It has been a humbling experience to witness how an engine that reached the end of its service in Loudoun County will become the most valuable and capable vehicle within the Holmes County professional and volunteer fire services,” said Battalion Chief Davis. “It was our honor to represent Loudoun County and help train the Holmes County firefighters on the use of the engine and deliver additional supplies that will help the people of Mississippi.”
In addition to celebrating the delivery of the fire engine with a ribbon cutting ceremony, Chair Randall and Holmes County Board of Supervisors President Leonard Hampton also formally signed the Sister County agreement, a ceremony that had been delayed by nearly two years due to the pandemic. The two counties have committed to “beneficial exchanges between schools, cultures, business relationships, as well as connections between citizens and the institutions designed to serve them.”
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