County, Poarch to receive homeland security funds

Published 7:48 pm Monday, June 21, 2004

By By Lindsey Sherrill
Escambia County and the Poarch Creek Indians have both been named to receive grants as part of the federal funds given to the Alabama Department of Homeland Security.
Thursday representatives from Poarch and Escambia County met with the ADHS staff in Mobile to justify their proposed budgets for the use of the funds. These budgets and the budgets from all Alabama counties will be collected and sent to Washington by July 2. It will then take 30-60 days for the budgets to be reviewed and grants released to the counties and Poarch.
Escambia County is set to receive $75,000 and Poarch will receive $20,000.
"The amount of the grants depends on the population and the level of threat," said April Sells, Poarch's Homeland Security contact officer. "For obvious reasons, Mobile and Jefferson counties and the Huntsville area will receive more."
In December, all Alabama counties and the Poarch Creek Indians were required to submit a survey to the ADHS outlining critical and vulnerable points within the county or reservation, Sells said.
The gaming facilities and Pow Wow were determined to be Poarch's biggest areas to be considered as potential threat targets. Agriculture was also examined.
"Because the cattle raised on the reservation are sold throughout the United States, we felt we needed to be protected from the possibility of bioterrorism," Sells said.
Because the funds are limited, Poarch is working in conjunction with Escambia County and the surrounding counties to share the resources and equipment and better utilize the funding.
"Because of our [Poarch's] location off I-65, we are first responders, so we requested a Hazmat trailer and de-con [decontamination] equipment," Sells said. "We are trying to regionalize to share among the counties and work collectively to utilize what they have given us."
Escambia will use the funding for training exercises and equipment, the ADHS press office said. Surrounding counties will also receive Hazmat, decontamination, medical and training equipment.
Escambia County Emergency Management Director David Jennings will head the county's use of homeland security funds. Jennings could not be reached for comment.

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