LISBON - The Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency is taking a different approach when seeking federal Homeland Security grant money for next year.
Rather than going it alone, which it has done since the Office of Homeland Security was created following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the EMA is joining with five other nearby Ohio counties - including Mahoning County - to seek $5.58 million in combined funding.
County Commissioner Tim Weigle, who worked with EMA Director Luke Newbold on the application, said they decided this was a better approach since Homeland Security grant money to counties has been declining, and the process has become more competitive. "It's a complicated grant, and the only way to go for it is to go big. If we went after the money as only one county, you wouldn't stand any chance," Weigle said.
The county received as much as $120,000 in Homeland Security funding as recently as 2010, but the amount was cut to $62,782 last year. The EMA failed to seek a grant for this year after missing the filing deadline during the period following the resignation of the former director.
Weigle said he and Newbold decided it would be better to join with other counties to submit a larger grant application, which might increase the chance of receiving enough funding to do some of the things on the list.
"These grants are so competitive now that we decided to go regional," he said.
$3.5 million - Early warning sirens
$1.7 million - Expand radio system to let first-responders communicate on the same frequency and regardless of the distance
$180,000 - Mobile generators
$104,700 - Two hazmat detection/screening kits.
The other counties involved in the joint application are Harrison, Carroll, Jefferson, Stark and Mahoning.
In past years, the EMA used an advisory committee it created to decide how the grant money is to be spent and for whom, based on requests from communities.