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Lane agencies get funding for security.

Byline: Rebecca Nolan The Register-Guard

More than $1 million in federal Homeland Security funds will flow into local emergency service agency coffers this year to improve Lane County's ability to respond to a terrorist threat or natural disaster.

The grant money will be spent by police, fire and medical agencies on equipment and training for the people likely to respond first to a local catastrophe.

"It's been a great day for Lane County," said Linda Cook, the county's emergency services coordinator. "Finally, some Homeland Security money is beginning to flow into our community."

The funding, which was announced Wednesday, is seen as a triumph for members of a countywide preparedness board that worked for months to free up some of the $24 million in federal money available in Oregon this year and funnel as much as possible to local agencies. U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, a member of the Select Committee on Homeland Security, introduced legislation that allowed states more flexibility in how the money is used.

The Eugene Police Department will direct its $297,000 in grants toward enhancing its year-old bioterrorism response team, known as HEATT, an acronym for the hazardous environment and tactical team, and to better equip its bomb squad, police strategic planner Linda Phelps said.

The department plans to buy chemical suits, gloves and respirators, cooling suits for bomb technicians, an ionic explosive detector, decontamination gear, digital communication equipment, and new emergency response vehicles.

"Police are often the first ones on the scene," Phelps said. "But they weren't the people that had protective masks and equipment. The (fire department's) hazmat team did."

The equipment will help bridge the gap between Eugene's police and fire departments' ability to respond to a critical incident, she said.

The Eugene fire department will get $100,000 to purchase a specially outfitted truck it can use to haul around its technical rescue team's equipment trailer as well as carry five firefighters.

"I could hear the cheers from across the alley at station 2, from the guys saying, `Yes - we finally got one,' ' fire Chief Tom Tallon said.

"The department is always in a situation where we haven't got adequate funding to purchase the equipment and the training we need," Tallon said. "Without the $100,000 our community would not have been able to make this purchase."

Sacred Heart Medical Center also got $39,000 to purchase new radio equipment.

Across the river, Springfield police were awarded $293,000, which it will spend on communication equipment, and the city's fire department won a $100,000 grant to develop a protection plan for the McKenzie River Watershed. The Upper McKenzie Rural Fire Protection District and McKenzie Fire and Rescue each received $100,000 for the same purpose thanks to grant applications prepared by Eugene Water & Electric Board's Karl Morgenstern, Cook said.

The Lane County Sheriff's Office will receive $92,500 to improve the county courthouse's security. It will also get $54,000 to begin planning an upgrade to its aging radio communications network, Cook said.

The county also was awarded $56,000 to update its emergency operations plan, $45,000 to develop a local natural hazards mitigation plan, and $5,200 to establish critical incident response teams in Florence, Creswell and the Upper McKenzie Valley.
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Title Annotation:General News
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 19, 2003
Words:543
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