Governor Ivey Announces $1.5 million in Local Homeland Security Grants
MONTGOMERY — Governor Kay Ivey on Monday, Nov. 20, announced first responders from across the state will receive Homeland Security grants totaling $1.5 million. The grants will provide sheriffs’ offices, police departments, fire departments and other first responders the opportunity to acquire new equipment, as well as to conduct training in three categories: interoperable communications, critical infrastructure/soft target protection and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) response.
“Homeland Security is hometown security,” Governor Ivey said. “Our first responders are the first line of defense for Alabama. As such recent events as hurricanes that swept through the Southeast to the terrorist attack in New York City demonstrated, first responders must be trained and ready to respond to natural disasters and man-made events.”
Forty-three first-responder organizations of varying sizes will receive the 2017 grants. The grants include funds for such equipment as a metal detector scanner for Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, camera system for Morgan County EMA, and radios for Camden Police Department, Bullock County Sheriff’s Office and Mount Weisner Fire Department.
Secretary of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Hal Taylor said, “I want to thank Governor Ivey for her support of men and women who dedicate their own lives to protecting the lives and property of Alabama’s citizens. These grants will further enhance their capability to be ready when needed.”
ALEA administers the FEMA State Homeland Security Grant Program in Alabama. All local first-responder agencies were eligible to apply for funding. Representatives from such first-responder professional associations as the Alabama Association of Emergency Managers, Alabama Association of Chiefs of Police, Alabama Fire Chiefs Association and the Alabama Sheriffs Association reviewed and scored grant applications.
The Anniston Fire Department is seeking to fund the cost of replacing aging equipment through a state grant. Fire Chief Chris Collins says that, although he’s new to grant writing, this was an opportunity that was too good to pass up.
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City personnel from police, fire, engineering and city planning departments, Jack Draper, Mayor of Anniston, Millie Harris, Ward 4 Council Person, and representatives from Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) and the trucking industry met Monday, July 10, to discuss measures to improve the corridor of U.S. 431/McClellan Veterans Memorial Parkway from Henry Road to the Coleman/Choccolocco Road intersection where another fatal accident occurred on Friday, July 7.
ALDOT has been involved in an engineering study of the U.S. 431 corridor for the past several months, and today ALDOT representatives were able to address several solutions proposed by the group. City Manager Kent Davis, who had called the meeting of city management personnel and others, urged “swift and immediate action.” ALDOT agreed to expedite the engineering study, and proposed intermediate and long range phases of improvements.
Afterward, Davis said many of the ideas that were discussed came from the citizens who live and work near the intersection or drive through it regularly, including comments left on social media for the City’s consideration.
Davis explained, “These are the people that are witnessing the problems and seeing the patterns. I want them to know that City Hall is taking this seriously. I want to tell them, ‘Here’s what we are going to do, and here is what ALDOT is going to do.’”
Over the next two days, ALDOT engineers will be on site at the intersection evaluating the impact of making the immediate actions that were suggested during the meeting today. These include changes to traffic signalization timing and placement and design of road signage.
City of Anniston Police Chief Shane Denham said the Department had increased patrols of the U.S. 431 corridor and intersection prior to the most recent accident, and that motorists can expect to see an even stronger police presence along the corridor. The Department’s investigation of the July 7 fatal accident is ongoing.
These are the people that are witnessing the problems and seeing the patterns. I want them to know that City Hall is taking this seriously.
— Anniston City Manager Kent Davis
Over the next two weeks, ALDOT will study the corridor of U.S. 431 from the Henry Road junction to the Choccolocco/Coleman Roads intersection with the goal of producing intermediate solutions that can be made within a month. ALDOT explained that long range improvements will be more complex and will require research into seasonal traffic patterns, topography and environmental conditions. No timeline was given for the long range phase.
Jack Draper, Mayor of Anniston said he was pleased with ALDOT’s willingness to work with city of Anniston representatives. “First, our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and families of last Friday’s accident,” said Draper. “Today, we put everything on the table. No idea was off limits.”