Crowe: State doing 'real well' on homeland security

By Greg Miller

STAR STAFF
gmiller@starhq.com

  
Homeland security was among the topics addressed at the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce Annual Legislative Breakfast, which was held Friday at the Truman Clark Health Education Annex at the Carter County/Elizabethton Health Department.
   Progress on Tennessee's homeland security effort is "moving forward," said State Rep. Ralph Cole.
   "We're doing real well, I think, on homeland security right now," said State Sen. Dewey "Rusty" Crowe. "A good friend of Ralph's and mine, Brig. Gen. Wendell Gilbert, is our homeland security chief. He's also the chairman of Veterans Affairs for Tennessee."
   Gilbert, Crowe said, is working with law enforcement agencies and other groups such as emergency services and Civil Defense "to combine those into a protection for homeland security for Tennessee. He does need some funding. We're working on that. A bill comes up this coming week in the Senate to try to help with that. I think he's asking at this point for three or four million dollars."
   Part of the money for homeland security is attached to the money for parks. "We're going to try to work that out some way," Crowe said.
   "Homeland security is alive and well in Tennessee. Gov. Tom Ridge in Washington is coordinating daily with our people in Tennessee, with Gen. Gilbert, and I think we're in good hands."
   The Sept. 11 terrorist attack on America had "a tremendous impact" on the state's economy, Crowe said. "We were in trouble already. We had problems already. Our economy was slowing to the point that we had gone in a matter of two years from a growth of about 6 percent, I guess, to maybe 2 percent. Then when the 9-11 attacks took place, we actually went down at one point to a minus 1.5 growth. We went down to below a scale where we never had been before. I think it did have a great impact. The federal problems combined with our state problems put us in a real situation."