Cannon County's Homeland Security Committee met for the first time in recent years Tuesday. Faye Morse was asked several questions about monies awarded to the County from the State Homeland Security Grant Program.
Roy Sullivan, Cannon County 911 Communications Director, asked if the funding was still in place for the new 911 tower. The tower is a result of the State wanting to improve all interoperable communications. The tower will be located on property at Pleasant Ridge.
The money was awarded in the 2008 Grant and came with an extension until 2011 to complete the project. Because the project had to fulfill obligations, including an environmental and drilling stud, it took 14 months to complete. The money in the grant was carried over to the 2009 Grant which extended the completion of the project until 2012.
After looking at the Grant budget, Sullivan couldn't locate where the money was carried over and became concerned that the project would no longer be funded by the grant. EMA Director Faye Morse assured him several times during the meeting that the money was there and that the project could go on as scheduled. Morse also communicated several times through emails that the funding was still there for the project.
The grant is a reimbursement grant which means the money will have to be spent and reimbursed by the grant money.
County Executive Mike Gannon said that as long as the money was in place, he wants the tower put up as scheduled and doesn't want the County to have to pay for any of it. EMA Director Morse replied that the turnaround of invoices versus payment will be a lot quicker than normal. The County has until May 2012 to complete the project.
The FCC has notified all emergency agencies for several months to alert them to a mandate that will be upcoming in that wideband radios will be changed to narrowband radios. Not all wideband radios can be converted to the narrow band, therefore new radios have to be purchased in order to meet the mandate.
Cannon County has over 300 radios of which none can be converted to the narrowband frequencies. During a USAI (Urban Area Security Initiative) district meeting earlier this year, the head of the district wanted an inventory done of all agencies in the county of who have radios, and where radios are assigned.
Cannon County asked for the funding of 300 radios; however, they were given 27 portables and 9 mobiles. Sullivan had turned in a list of the departments he inventoried. He then explained to the Committee that the rest of the list should have been Director Morse's responsibility to turn in the rest of the list which included Eastside, Short Mountain, Mooretown, Midway and Bradyville Fire Departments.
Director Morse countered that she emailed the list of all the departments that she had had inventoried both to Mr. Sullivan and the Chairman of the Communications Committee and those particular fire departments should have been among those counted on to receive the new radios. The County will need at least 20 more radios in order to better serve the county.
That list was never turned in leaving those fire departments off the list to recieve the new radios. The county will need at least 20 more radios in order to better serve the county.
The next step will be for the Tower project to be put to bid. It will not take long to get the actual tower put up on the property. The Homeland Security Committee will meet at least once a quarter. The next scheduled meeting will be in January.