Homeland security grants to help county post road signs, map area for 911

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

By Ben Holman

Nevada Daily Mail

Thanks to grant funds, Vernon County will soon be better equipped to handle emergency situations in the area.

Just last week the commissioners received a letter from the Missouri Emergency Management Agency stating that the county's grant application had been approved. The grant money is a portion of federal homeland security grants allocated to Missouri.

According to the letter, the county was approved for $30,920 in grant money for several purposes.

Nearly half of the money will be used to begin to assemble a Geographic Information System on Vernon County. The county will spend $15,000 in order to create a GIS-V Risk Map -- a map which will contain information about the geography of Vernon County, roads, the water supply and various other pieces of information that may be necessary in the event of a number of emergency situations.

"If you have an accident on 71 and there is a chemical spill involved," explained Bonnie McCord, Southern Commissioner, "you can look at the map and see the elevation, where the water supply is and where the spill is going to go." With that information, emergency crews can better respond to such incidents and have a plan for containment and clean up.

McCord said that the commission also plans to include information about county bridges in the map, in order to maintain better records of the conditions of those bridges and to be able to prioritize projects. Also included in the grant is $5,000 for two new computers. The computers will be used in conjunction with the GIS map and for other county purposes.

The remaining $10,920 will be used to purchase materials and a machine that will allow the county to make road signs -- a first step in labeling all the county roads. Labeling roads will allow emergency vehicles, as well as others, to navigate the county more efficiently and cut valuable minutes off of response times.

The commission has already enlisted the aid of the Vernon County Historical Society in deciding on names for the roads; the names will be selected to reflect the history of the area. "(They) have helped us with names that are unique to Vernon County and relate to local history and the Civil War," said McCord. Commissioners said, however, that the $10,000 is only the first step and is only a fraction of what the total cost will be.

According to commissioners, all of these improvements will ensure that Vernon County is better prepared to deal with a variety of emergency situations.

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