6 county EMAs join to seek US grants

LISBON – The Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency is taking a different approach when seeking federal Homeland Security grant money for next year.

Rather than going it alone, which it has done since the Office of Homeland Security was created following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the EMA is joining with five other nearby Ohio counties to seek a whopping $5.58 million in combined funding.

County Commissioner Tim Weigle, who worked with EMA Director Luke Newbold on the application, said they decided this was a better approach since Homeland Security grant money to counties has been declining and the process has become more competitive. “It’s a complicated grant, and the only way to go for it is to go big. If we went after the money as only one county, you wouldn’t stand any chance,” Weigle said.

The county received as much as $120,000 in Homeland Security funding as recently as 2010, but the amount was cut to $62,782 last year. The EMA failed to seek a grant for this year after missing the filing deadline during the period following the resignation of the former director.

Weigle said he and Newbold decided it would be better to join with other counties to submit a larger grant application, which might increase the chance of receiving enough funding to do some of the things on the list.

“These grants are so competitive now that we decided to go regional,” he said,.

The other counties involved in the joint application are Harrison, Carroll, Jefferson, Stark and Mahoning. The following lists how much is being sought on behalf of all six counties and for what:

-$3.5 million for early warning sirens, with 32 of the sirens to integrate into the sirens already in place in the county.

-$1.7 million to expand MARCS, which Weigle said is a radio system solely for the use by law enforcement and fire departments. He said the plan would be to add MARCs radios for the fire departments, which would allow all first responders to be able to communicate on the same frequency and regardless of the distance.

– $9,953 to purchase a mobile command and communications trailer. The county EMA has its own, but this trailer would be available for the other counties to use in an emergency.

– $180,000 to acquire a mobile generator capable of providing power to the critical care areas of a hospital should it lose electricity and its backup generators. This would be shared among the counties.

– $7,290 to purchase a police shield for each county’s special response team.

– $104,700 for two hazmat detection/screening kits, one of which would go to the East Liverpool Fire Department, which is the state-designated hazmat team for the county.

– $10,000 for a warning siren generator for Knox Township, which is located on the border with two of the other counties -Stark and Mahoning.

In past years, the EMA used an advisory committee it created to decide how the grant money is to be spent and for whom, based on requests from communities.