LEPC considers projects to fund

Grant money originally slated for a shooting range to train local law enforcement is being reallocated for other emergency planning needs of the county.

“We tried four times,” Auglaize County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Troy Anderson said.

The state failed to approve plans for a tactical shooting range and training facility, he said, even after they made tweaks each time to try to meet their criteria.

The facility, requested by police departments throughout the county, could have been used by county departments for free and by other agencies outside of the county for a fee. Plans for the facility began early last year.

Area incidents around the same time demonstrated the need for the automated range, Anderson said of the approximately $20,000 facility, which most recently also was turned down by the Department of Homeland Security.

“By August, we need to have the money reallocated and spent,” Anderson said as he discussed other options.

Possible ways that Homeland Security grant funding may be spent now include the purchase of a portable generator to be stored at the Neil Armstrong Airport. The wheeled generator could be used there or at shelter sites around the county as needed in case of emergency.

A little more than $7,000 had been set aside to purchase the generator, but Anderson said to meet state requirements of size, it could cost between $20,000 and $50,000. The size requirements are based on what would be needed to operate a shelter for 300 people.

“We’re looking at how we can allocate funds to do that,” Anderson said.

Another area for which grants may be applied is for school bus radio upgrades, which began to be phased in before, but the project was never finished.

The upgrades would improve radio communication systems to allow for better tracking while buses are on the road, particularly on field trips. One reason for the radios are they could be tied directly to emergency dispatch to allow them to keep tabs on a bus’s location.

Anderson said it’s an important area to address with continued concerns about school safety issues.

Approximately $66,000 in 2010 Homeland Security grant funding needs to be spent by the end of the summer or the money will be lost.

Some of those funds have already been accounted for with other projects, Anderson said.

In addition, the LEPC also received $35,000 (50 percent less than the year before) from a 2011 Homeland Security grant, but project possibilities for that money are still in early discussion stages.

Any Homeland Security funding the county could receive in 2012 would be on a competitive basis.

“Because Homeland Security grants are coming to a close, we will have to take and maintain equipment out of the funds we received, it’s something we’ve not budgeted for before,” Anderson said. “Before we did it through new grants. We’re going to have to look at this closer and figure out how we want to proceed.”