Fiscal court hears proposal regarding radio equipment federal grant

Posted May 8, 2019 at 12:05 pm

Clinton County Fiscal Court held a special call meeting last Tuesday night, April 30 with only one item of business on the agenda, that being a proposal to apply for a radio project grant, which turned out to be more related to a safety program catered toward schools.

All members were present for the meeting. Also in attendance was Albany Mayor Lyle Pierce, EMS Director Lonnie Scott and Clinton County Sheriff Jeff Vincent.

James Leslie, a representative of Mayday, a security entity with the federal government, along with Albany Elementary School Principal Tim Armstrong, made the approximate 45-minute proposal pertaining to the possibility of a Department of Justice related grant the city/county may be able to apply for and obtain.

Leslie noted the grant, which has an initial deadline of May 31 but could be extended, is being written by local grant writer Paula Little and if funded would be used for school safety.

The grant, he estimated, would range between $220,000 to $260,000 and would require a 25 percent local match. For example, if the grant were to total $240,000, the city and county would have to jointly fund $60,000 of the total between them.

The representative said only about a half dozen cities or counties across the state would be funded and used as a model for the program.

Leslie gave a background on himself and Mayday as well as providing magistrates a K-12 schools information kit that contained a lot of technical information about how the technology would work.

The system would allow schools to coordinate phones with a network including various apps to send alerts to all emergency responders and pinpoint locations, such as where an active shooter might be, etc.

“Hopefully, if operational in the schools, it could spread to churches and businesses,” Leslie told the court members.

The grant would be for a two-year period, but could be extended for a third year.

Emergency Management Director Scott noted there was basically a “Mayday” side and “radio” side of the proposal, adding the cost to replace 18 radios at $3,200 per radio, plus three new repeaters would cost over $400,000 alone.

The radio component of the project plan, due to the cost alone is “off the table,” Scott added.

The project, if actually applied for, would apparently be a joint application between the city and county and Leslie said Mayday would help with the coordination and training in the use of the technology.

Principal Armstrong said the Mayday system is in place at AES and recommended that company indicating he thought it could be affordable and sustainable.

It was also noted the technology would also be an asset for school buses, primarily in keeping track of their exact locations at all times.

Leslie noted the technology software was great, but training in its use was the key to the success. He added, “Even if you apply and do not get the grant, you haven’t lost anything.”

Following the presentation, the court took no official action but may revisit the proposal at its regular meeting on May 16. Also, Albany City Council met this past Tuesday (too late for press deadline) but it isn’t known if the proposal was going to be made before that governing body as well.

Some of the details provided in the information kit last week are:

* Since 2000, there have been 130 shootings at U.S. K-12 schools.

* School shootings have occurred in 43 out of 50 states.

* School districts and law enforcement are often not aligned with training and expectations.

Funding under the program must be used for:

* Coordination with law enforcement.

* Training for local law enforcement officers to prevent student violence.

* Placement and use of metal detectors, locks, lighting, and other deterrents.

* Acquisition and installation of technology for expedited notification of local law enforcement during an emergency.