Utility grant to help power business’ recovery

FORT PLAIN – The owner of the Save-A-Lot in the village was presented with a $50,000 ceremonial check from National Grid on Tuesday.

After flooding occurred in the Mohawk Valley Region earlier this summer, National Grid implemented a $2 million grant program called the Mohawk Valley Flood Recovery Grant. It was created for businesses that required funding to rebuild after the flood.

National Grid awarded the first grant to the Save-A-Lot to help support its renovation.

“The day after the flood I counted 47 Amish men in the store helping us clean up, along with a number of local people who just wanted to help out and get the store reopened,” store owner John Hart recalled Tuesday. “One of those people was [State] Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk and her assistant; they were knee-deep in mud helping us out. So, it didn’t take us long to find out how much the community wanted us to come back and reopen.”

Hart said the help and enthusiasm he received from the community helped him decide to rebuild and reopen.

“We reopened here recently and the place is better than ever. We’ve set new sales records and the reception we’ve gotten is impressive and I just appreciate everybody who played a part, especially National Grid,” he said.

Hart said a lot of the rebuilding would not have been possible without the dedication of Save-A-Lot’s store manager Jackie Bidwell.

Bidwell said she is proud to be a member of the Fort Plain community.

“I have lived in many different places and I’ve never been so proud as I am right now to be living in Fort Plain,” Bidwell said.

The June flooding severely damaged businesses and homes in sections of the village. A woman was killed in the flooding when floodwaters washed away her home while she was in it.

The Mohawk Valley Flood Recovery Program provides emergency grants of up to $50,000 to commercial, industrial and agricultural business customers in the most damaged areas. These grants are offered to help offset costs of reconstructing buildings and restoring activity.

Ken Daly, the National Grid New York State president, said this program is intended to help rebuild businesses that are important to communities.

“This is about rebuilding,” Daly explained. “We [National Grid] are the gas and electric company; we’ve been here ourselves for a century and we intend to be here for another 100 years, and while we’re here we want to make these communities better than ever. We want to rebuild, so we announced the rebuilding program, and in 100 years we have never had to do this and now we’ve done it three times: for Hurricane Irene, Hurricane Sandy and now this flood…and we realized what Save-A-Lot means to this community, which is a lot.”

Kevin Krough, the National Grid gas operations supervisor, also recognized the Fort Plain Volunteer Fire Department and handed out plaques of appreciation for the volunteers hard work.

“These gentlemen went above and beyond for their community,” Krough said. “They worked by my side for hours to get the job done. I not only want to recognize you today, but I want to thank you for the extra hours you put in to help us.”