Homeland Security money is welcome

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 30, 2003

Tribune editorial staff

Living in Lawrence County, many of us would not expect to be the target of terrorist attacks.

Unfortunately, we are in a changed world in which everybody needs to be on constant alert. Are we in imminent danger? Probably not, but it would be nice to know we have the resources in place should the inevitable happen.

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Earlier this week, Lawrence County was awarded $111,750 of Ohio's $17.5 million share of U.S. Department of Homeland Security funds. The money is to be used for planning, exercises, training and equipment at the state, county and local levels. On June 6, the Threat Risk Needs Committee for Domestic Preparedness and Homeland Security -- comprised of 24 people in law enforcement, public office, the Emergency Management Agency and other emergency agencies -- will meet to discuss how to use this new grant, as well as two other grants the county previously received, one for $84,000 and another for $36,482.

Once the county determines how to use these funds, they are then required to submit a budget spending plan to the state, who will then forward the requests to the Department of Homeland Security. Once the plans are processed and approved, the federal government will release the funds.

Lawrence County is situated near many chemical plants and oil refineries, so if an attack were to take place, it could be disastrous. In the coming months, this committee will have its hands full trying to determine how this money will be best spent to protect the people of Lawrence County and the Tri-State. We feel the committee needs to first look at training for emergency personnel and equipment that could be used to dispel such attacks.

Even though terrorists are more likely to strike more populated areas, we need to keep our eyes open. If we ignore the threat and pretend it cannot happen here, we will become vulnerable. It is best to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.