Canton Repository

April 2, 2002

Stark officials to use anti-terrorism funds 

Copley News Service

WASHINGTON — Ohio counties soon will receive thousands of dollars more in anti-terrorism funding, raising the challenge of determining which local agencies will benefit from the money.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced this week the release of $17 million in anti-terrorism funds to a handful of states and cities, including $5.4 million to Ohio. The money is earmarked
for the purchase of equipment to defend against a terrorist attack.

Based on a federal formula, Ohio distributes the funds to its counties. Each county, in turn, will use the money to buy an assortment of protective suits, communications devices and equipment used to detect biological or other weapons and decontaminate clothing and objects.

The money represents the second federal payment to Ohio since the state submitted an anti-terrorism plan to the federal government late last year. That plan, in turn, was based on
local threat assessments prepared by counties starting in 2000, long before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The first grant to Ohio totaled $1.8 million.

The counties now must determine which police and fire departments, emergency response units and other organizations will receive the equipment.

Officials in Stark County are figuring out how to spend a $50,000 grant received several weeks ago. The latest award will leave them with an anti-terrorism kitty of more than $100,000.

Ed Cox, Emergency Preparedness Agency coordinator for Stark County, said he and other officials are “agonizing” over how to spend the first $50,000.

“Fifty thousand dollars doesn’t buy a whole heck of a lot,” he said. “We’re going to have to sit down with agencies and say, ‘OK, who’s going to get what?’ ”

Officials in nearby Tuscarawas County received its first $50,000 grant earlier this year. The second grant should result in another $52,000 for Tuscarawas.

“We have to sit down and decide, depending on what we end up buying, and who’s trained ... where it goes and how it will be used,” said Patty Levengood, director of the Emergency
Management Agency for Tuscarawas County. “Always with money, there’s always challenges.”

In deciding what to buy, counties are not allowed to stray far from federal purchasing guidelines that come with the money. The federal purchase requirements are based on the state plan,
which in turn reflected threat assessments prepared by counties.

Prices for protective clothing and equipment have gone up since the federal government issued the guidelines, meaning the grants won’t buy as much as originally planned, Cox and Levengood said.

Stark County plans to use the first $50,000 to purchase protective clothing for police, firefighters and emergency medical services, biological contamination detection kits, a decontamination “shower” system and communication radios for police, fire, the hazardous materials team and
medical personnel.

In Tuscarawas County, officials are checking prices from different suppliers so they “can get the best bang for our buck,” Levengood said.

The county’s terrorism assessment team will decide what to buy and where it will go. In addition to Levengood, the team includes Jeff Shreiner, coordinator of the county’s hazardous materials team, and representatives of local police, communities and the county health department.

The hazardous materials team will “probably be getting the majority of it because they will be the first responders” in the event of a terrorist attack, Levengood said.