Canton Repository

May 1, 2003

Government to award Ohio another $46.4M to fight terror

Copley Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON — The federal government is making $46.4 million available to Ohio to further strengthen defenses against a possible terrorist attack, the Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday.

The funding is Ohio’s share of a $1.5 billion grant to the states, the latest round in aid for homeland security.

Officials said the money would finance training and equipment for public safety and law enforcement personnel. A portion of the funds is designated to reimburse states for the costs of enhanced security during the heightened alert status during the war with Iraq.

“We do not underestimate the role that state and local governments play in protecting American citizens against the threat of terrorism,” Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said.

Ohio officials said the $46.4 million grant is at the high end of what the state expected.

It will help Ohio and its counties “in meeting the unique requirements of every jurisdiction in terms of what equipment they need to have to be able to respond to a terrorist attack based on their analysis of their vulnerability,” said Richard Roman, spokesman for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.

The state must submit an application and plans for spending the funds to the federal Office of Domestic Preparedness and receive approval before getting the money.

Of the total grant, $40 million is reserved for training, equipment and planning, Roman said. The state will distribute about 80 percent of that amount to the counties’ emergency management agencies. The remaining $6 million is to reimburse the state for costs incurred to protect critical infrastructure such as airports and power plants during the Iraq war.

In addition to the latest $46.4 million grant, Ohio is awaiting an earlier, $17.5 million award that also will be used to beef up first responders. Roman expects the state to get that money by mid-May.

The $17.5 million is divided up into $12.2 million for equipment, $3.1 million for exercises, $1.2 million for planning and administration, and almost $1 million for training.

About 80 percent of the $17.5 million will be distributed to counties, including $203,000 for Stark County and $111,750 for Tuscarawas County.

The two most recent grants are on top of $17.6 million the state received to strengthen first responders last year.

Stark County received an allocation of $282,905 but has not spent any of it yet.

Ed Cox, coordinator for emergency management in Stark, said a county committee has decided to spend $175,000 of the funds to buy personal protective equipment for first responders. “They’re going to get back together and decide what they want to do with the rest of the money,” he said.