If asked, most people would say that the funding for our local first responders comes from the government.  They’d say that the money comes from the town/city, the state, and grants from the federal government.

If they thought about it enough, they may even come up with the fact that because we pay taxes, we are actually the ones paying for our police, EMTs, firefighters, sheriff’s department, and state police.

For the most part, this is pretty accurate.  Our taxes do pay for our first responders.

No one person ever steps up to help fund our first responders, though, right?

Actually, it has been done before.  And in one particular case in Maine, it was done in a big way.

According to an old edition of the KJ on Newspapers.com, in January of 1988, a Central Maine business owner made a $32,000 donation to the Waterville Police Department.  The massive donation, provided by Valley Distributors owner Bernard Runser, was used to pay for much-needed replacement radios.

Police lights by night
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The donation allowed the department to purchase nine car radios and eight portable radios.

In the days before Central Maine had reliable cellphone services, these radios were a vital communications link for the police.

Yes, first responders still use radios today, but they were even more important in the days prior to alternatives.

According to an obituary in the Boothbay Register, Runser was born in Wisconsin but raised in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  He served in the U. S. Marine Corps before moving to Central Maine.

He ran Valley Distributors for about four decades, and loved his community.

In addition to purchasing the radios for the police, he was active in many other community organizations.

The obituary goes on to say:

He was instrumental in establishing the Waterville Area Girls Club and supported the Special Olympics. He mentored in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program, coached Pop Warner football teams, and led a YMCA Indian Guide troop. He was a champion of girls and women rights as well as an advocate for underprivileged children.

Runser passed away at the age of 81 in November of 2015.

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Gallery Credit: Stacker

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