EMA awarded two grants; third pending

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   Recently, the Elizabethton-Carter County Emergency Management Agency received word that it has been approved for more than $75,000 in grant money.
   According to EMA Director Ernest Jackson, in the last two weeks, the Agency was notified that it had been approved for a $17,000 planning grant to help the county develop a local emergency response plan, which would outline the proper procedures for emergency workers to follow when responding to a major call, such as a flood or a hazardous materials spill.
   "The local plan is important not only just to have everybody on the same page, but if we have say a Flood of '98 or other natural disaster or a man-made disaster, this will be an important tool in times like that," Jackson said.
   The planning grant allocates money for items such as office supplies and computers to help the Agency not only develop the plan but also make copies for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency as well as local authorities. The grant is a re-imbursement type grant, meaning that the EMA must first spend the money and the state will then refund it.
   According to Jackson, the Agency is ready to begin purchasing items very soon. "We have to get some bids on some computers and that's the only hold up right now," he said.
   In addition to the planning grant, the EMA received notice in the last few days that it has been approved for a grant totaling $60,000 from the Tennessee office of the Department of Homeland Security that was allocating the funds handed down by the national office of the federal agency.
   The grant will be used to purchase equipment for the various emergency agencies in the Elizabethton and Carter County governments, such as the Carter County Sheriff's Department, Elizabethton Police Department, Elizabethton Fire Department and Carter County Rescue Squad, to name a few. "A big part of it is going to help the HazMat team with a generator, a trailer and some airpacks," Jackson said.
   Other items slated to be purchased with grant funds are 40 gas masks, Global Positioning System (GPS) units, night vision goggles, a thermal imaging camera and three satellite phones.
   "There was an authorized equipment list and they would only pay for equipment that was on the list," Jackson said. "If you had something in the request that wasn't on the list then they would kick it back and say, 'You need to fund that some other way.'"
   The Homeland Security grant, like the planning grant, works on a reimbursement system.
   The EMA is also currently awaiting word about another grant through the Homeland Security Department, which, if awarded, could total up to $170,000 and would also work on a reimbursement system and be used toward the purchase of equipment. "That's all pending right now," Jackson said. "We're waiting on the green light for that one."
   Both grants recently awarded as well as the one still pending were applied for earlier this year while Renee Bowers was serving as interim director of the EMA, prior to the selection of Jackson as director in August. Jackson took office in the early part of September of this year.