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Emergency planning group broke, seeking grant

By Sherri Ellington The local Emergency Planning Committee is out of money ‘“ but the zero balance in its checkbook is not as dire as it sounds. ’We didn’t use all the grant money last year so we returned it,’ said Lamar Emergency Management Agency director Billy Campbell at the March 13 LEPC meeting. ‘That makes us eligible for a (new) grant this year. Leaving a little in the piggy bank is a no-no and we want to go by the guidelines.’ The money was returned after a requested audit that revealed the money could only be spent on certain items for hazardous materials training. Last year’s drill did not cost as much as usual. This year, however, the Forest Park hazmat team will be called in, which will likely result in all $3,500 in grant funds being used. The tabletop exercise is already being planned and should be ready for discussion at the May meeting. ’We’re going to bring in some outside help,’ said chairman Marc Crandlemire. ‘They need the training too and like to come.’ A team like that costs $250,000 to outfit, he added. Campbell said he had no doubt Lamar County would get its hazmat grant this year. ’We’ve had some good training over the last 15 years without spending a nickel of county money,’ he said. A push by the LEPC to get more local industries involved paid off, with officials from Jordan Forest Products and Walker Concrete attending the bimonthly lunch meeting. ’Membership is free and we need to do more than hold a drill a year and meet every other month for lunch,’ said Crandlemire. ‘If that’s all we’re going to do we might as well fold up and go home. We have to have industry support.’ Larry Goodson of Walker Concrete, who represents the company and LEPC’s in several counties, gave the history of the company. ‘I deal with OSHA and the DOT and other guys,’ he said. ‘We’re continually being asked to do more with less in building and construction overall. The government is constantly tweaking the benchmarks applied to the concrete industry. Stormwater work has a lot more paperwork and inspections but in the long run we have a very low impact on the environment.’ ’The trucking requirements are more stringent and include behavior analysis and fatigue tests,’ Goodson said. ‘If we hit a benchmark it flags an inspection. We’re going to continue to operate in a way to ensure the safety of the public.’ Crandlemire said the sheriff’s office is working on the community involvement ‘We want to get the community involved when we get the firearms range in order,’ said Crandlemire. ‘Our main objective is to protect our citizens first and property second.’ In addition, bylaws are set to be approved at the May meeting.

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