Local philanthropist endows KC awards for two fire depts.

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Kilgore and Sabine fire departments will soon offer a scholarship for Kilgore College students, thanks to a donation by Energy Weldfab President and frequent philanthropist Mike Clements.

KFD Chief Johnny Bellows said the endowed scholarship will help KC students pursue an education.

“He [Clements] has endowed money to Kilgore College as scholarship in the name of Kilgore Fire Department and Sabine Fire Department. It will be awarded every two years. It's a scholarship that can be awarded to a student to complete a college degree, preferably in fire sciences,” Bellows said.

Bellows said the departments are working closely with KC administrators to plan how the scholarship will be awarded. Still to be determined are the requirements for the scholarship: whether it will be awarded only to a student studying fire science, a required minimum grade point average and other details.

“We haven't yet set down with the college and determined our preferences. We are still in the early stages in the program,” he said.

Bellows added the departments will meet with KC administrators in January to plan the details of the scholarship before submitting the plan to the college board for a vote.

News of the scholarship's creation was a surprise to the firefighters.

“We had an awards banquet Dec. 8. Mr. Clements announced that, that came as a total surprise. He just got up and said he needed to make an announcement. It's pretty nice of him,” Bellows said.

Richard Sisk, Sabine fire chief, confirmed SFD will also offer a scholarship with the help of Clements and will meet with KC admins to plan the details.

“We don't have the details. We have a meeting with the college to go over those. We did get it from Mike Clements. He set it up for us, for me and for the Sabine Fire Department, an endowed scholarship through Kilgore College. The criteria for a student would be probably set at a minimum 2.0 GPA and we have not determined the program of study that we will require, whether we will allow part-time or full time enrollment,” Sisk said.

Sisk added the planning process will include a discussion of which school district a student must be registered in to qualify for the scholarship but he hopes it will benefit students local to the Sabine area.

“There's some stuff that will still have to establish. Once it's all set in place, it's endowed, so we'll be able to give it out moving forward,” Sisk said.

An exact amount for the scholarship award has not been determined yet but Sisk said it could possibly be high enough to cover two full years of expenses at KC. KC's Foundation, which manages scholarships, will oversee the fire department scholarship whe details are finalized.

“The college has the foundation which helps select the scholarship recipient. I will not pick the recipient. The Foundation will establish and manage the fund and the executive director will execute the fund,” Sisk said.

Sisk and the rest of the department are looking forward to this new opportunity that may benefit local students and the community as a whole.

“We're excited about it. Sabine Fire Department has never bene able to give out something like that. For us to give out a scholarship to a student from Sabine High School would be awesome. Half of my district is also in Gladwater ISD so we may include students from Sabine High School and Gladewater ISD.”

There is no official name for the fund yet but it will be given on behalf of SFD, who will also meet with KC admins in January to finalize details.

“We're hoping it will help grow some leaders and maybe they'll come back and serve the community,” Sisk said.

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