Believe Appalachia works to help Huntington first responders in unique way

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — With the help of $24,000, AT&T is working to help first responders by demolishing buildings. The City of Huntington is trying to get rid of blighted structures, and AT&T is joining the fight. The money will help demolish three structures, the first of which was torn down Thursday, October 10, 2019. So far, the city has demolished 73 structures in 2019.

“First responders put their lives at hand every single day,” said Samantha Delph from the AT&T Public Safety Team. “I think so many times the population doesn’t see what these individuals do.”

“We want to help them because they’re doing a lot to help us,” said AT&T State President for West Virginia Andy Feeney.

Huntington police officers say blighted structures are often used by drug addicts, and because of the way these buildings are used, police and fire personnel are often put at risk.

“You open the doors, and it’s more than obvious that [you’re entering] extremely disgusting environments,” said Lt. Phil Watkins with the Huntington Police Department. “We don’t want to go in those places any more than the everyday person would.”

AT&T is also pledging another $20,000 to help a wellness center that will be a part of the COMPASS program. The program will allow first responders to receive mental health assistance they may need as they fight on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic.

“We want to make sure that our guys just don’t run themselves to the ground responding over and over and over, without taking time to take care of themselves,” said Lt. Watkins.

Officials with “Habitat for Humanity” say they look forward to using the lot on Bruce Street, along with another one on the same block, to provide affordable housing to a new Habitat owner in the future.

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