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Woodsboro gets $72,000
 to secure water supply

Liam Farrell
Frederick News Post

(2/2) The saying "all politics are local" can certainly be applied to homeland security.

The Frederick County Commissioners on Thursday approved several agenda items designed to aid government crisis response, including money for a water-tank security fence and well-monitoring system for Woodsboro, a municipality of about 900 people .

The county will give almost $72,000 in Homeland Security funds for the approximately $92,000 project of constructing a fence at the Adams Street water tower and the monitoring system for the town's five wells. Woodsboro will contribute the remaining $20,000 .

"The object of doing this is to provide the citizens of Woodsboro with safe drinking water," said Don Trimmer, town burgess.

Mr. Trimmer said criticism of Woodsboro spending Homeland Security money would be unfounded because the value of someone's life should not be determined by population.

"We're trying to secure our water system so we can provide safe drinking water," he said. "Wouldn't it be a lot easier to take care of 900 people quick rather than 10, 15 or 100,000 (people)?"

The chain-link fence around the water tower will be about eight feet tall and will not have barbed wire, Mr. Trimmer said.

The county accepted more than $591,000 in Homeland Security money in April 2005 and the State asked municipalities for requests. The funds can be used through Sept. 30.


Making waves

The commissioners also agreed to the reconfiguration of the public safety radio system.

On Aug. 6, 2004, the Federal Communications Commission ordered a nationwide rebanding of the radio systems used by police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and others because they had problems with interference from commercial wireless carriers.

Sprint/Nextel, which manufactures wireless radios, was required by the Federal Communications Commission to set aside $2.5 billion to pay for the reprogramming.

"This is an unprecedented effort to correct issues that were created by the FCC," said Jack Markey, director of the county's office of emergency management. "It's an obvious threat."

The county's radios are maintained by Motorola Inc., which will perform the service and have its costs paid by Sprint/Nextel.

Rebanding will be done in several waves, with the sheriff's department and Board of Education changed first, said Michael J. Chomel, assistant county attorney. The county will not have to pay for any of the adjustments, he said.

The county approved about $55,000 in Homeland Security money to replace the Frederick Police Department's logging recorder of 911 calls and radio communications, and signed over two floodlights to Frederick city so the equipment trailers can be properly registered with the motor vehicle association.

The county purchased four floodlights in September 2005, each 30 feet tall and able to illuminate more than 7 acres, for more than $33,000 total.

Two lights are stored by the County Department of Public Works, and the others are stored by the city's public works department for shared use during emergencies.

Officials said the county needs to remain vigilant in its emergency preparedness and maintenance of equipment paid for by the federal government.

"I want to know someone's actually checking in and making sure it's ready," Commissioner John Lovell Jr. said

Mr. Markey said he was confident the county does due diligence before allocating funds. In addition, all security investments are aimed to have use beyond dire emergencies.

"Before we fund something, we need to know where the operation and maintenance is going to come from," he said.

But Commissioner President John L. Thompson Jr. said the random day may come when an elected official goes over to public works and asks for the lights to be switched on.

"You might get a surprise inspection just to make sure," he said. "There is that concern about the maintenance of these things."

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