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Regional homeland security committee votes to buy tent frames, will seek bids for generators

Friday, October 15, 2010

(Photo)
The Missouri State Highway Patrol displayed its Lenco BearCat armored response SWAT vehicle Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010 at the Osage Centre.
(Fred Lynch)
At the Region E Homeland Security Oversight Committee meeting Thursday, discussion centered on how to spend the region's remaining 2008 and 2009 state grant funds, leading to the purchase of items commonly used during emergency situations.

The committee, which met at the Osage Community Centre in Cape Girardeau, consists of law enforcement or emergency worker representatives from the 13 counties in the Missouri State Highway Patrol's Region E. The committee makes decisions on how to use grant funding from the Missouri Department of Public Safety Office of Homeland Security.

The panel first voted to correct an issue with a purchase the committee approved earlier this year. Members voted to buy tent frames for the seven mass care trailers in the region currently without frames.

According to Brian Balsman of the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission, also a member of the committee, when the committee sought bids for the purchase, the agreement only involved the tent. With the company whose bid they chose, frames are sold separately.

Agencies often use tents to set up emergency operation centers on the scene of an accident, natural disaster or other crisis.

"If we've got tents with no frames, they're absolutely useless. Shame on us for not noticing that to begin with," said the committee's chairman, Richard Knaup.

The frames should cost about $6,000, according to Balsman.

Of the more than $549,000 received in fiscal year 2008, a total of $51,234 remains, Balsman said. Just more than $47,000 has been spent from the 2009 grant funds. The regional committee received $549,262 in grant funding last year.

A representative from the Missouri Department of Public Safety Office of Homeland Security told the committee its fiscal year 2010 grant funds could arrive sooner than normal and that members should begin to prioritize their needs.

Committee members discussed using both 2008 and 2009 funding -- $24,000 from 2008 and $140,000 from 2009 -- to purchase trailer-mounted generators for the eight counties in Region E without the power source. Madison, Stoddard, Butler and Cape Girardeau counties, as well as the city of Caruthersville, are the areas with the only law enforcement agencies that possess a generator. The five generators cost about $140,000, according to a Region E representative.

Cape Girardeau assistant fire chief Mark Hasheider suggested the committee consider buying tower lighting with the generators. Both are often used to power command posts, evacuation areas or police and fire scenes.

"It's possible we could use the 2008 money to get the tower lights if they're available, Balsman said.

Committee members voted unanimously to seek out bids for both items.

Before the panel discussed budgetary items, coordinator of the state Office of Homeland Security, Paul Fennewald, offered tips on how they could their region's grant funds.

Fennewald said the panel should give thought to its capabilities as a whole, where some funding gaps are and where they'd like to be in the future.

"There's some great value using Homeland Security money in support of planning. I'm encouraging every one of the regions to consider this," he said.

Hiring a planner, according to Fennewald, could help the committee organize and update their database that tracks their expenditures.

"There's great value in bringing together all these representatives and seeing what we are doing in homeland security," Fennewald said. "It's about the money, but it's about building trustworthy relationships too. We're making hard choices."

ehevern@semissourian.com

388-3635

Pertinent Address:

1625 N. Kingshighway, Cape Girardeau, MO


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