February 12, 2014

Whitfield accepts emergency grants

Charles Oliver

— Whitfield County will be better prepared for future emergencies thanks to two state grants.

The Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 on Monday to accept:

• A $43,160 Homeland Security grant. The grant will be used to buy specified equipment for emergency management, including an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), trailer , emergency response lights, radios and a siren for the ATV, various radio equipment, an emergency lighting system, satellite phones, a generator and fire extinguishers.

• Accept a $10,000 grant from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency for equipment and training for local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers. Participants in the CERT program get training in disaster preparedness, fire safety, medical operations and basic first aid, and search and rescue.

Whitfield County Emergency Management Director Claude Craig said the ATV and associated equipment will give the county greater capability to respond to sites that aren’t accessible by roads.

“That could be something weather related or a medical emergency or a hazmat (hazardous materials) situation or anything like that,” he said.

Board members also voted 4-0 to:

• Buy 10 new full-size, all-wheel-drive patrol vehicles for the sheriff’s office from Brooker Ford for $241,450.

• Spend $25,000 of federal State Criminal Alien Assistance Program funds to purchase a computer system for the sheriff’s office from Techfriends of Jonesboro, Ark. The kiosk is  essentially a computer terminal housed in a protective container.

“This will allow us to set up visitations over the Internet,” said sheriff’s office Maj. John Gibson. “It will cut down on moving inmates from the cell block. They can’t have contact visitations anyway. They are talking through a piece of plexiglass. It will also allow us to do all the documentation that we normally do, such as requests for medical appointments. Any communication an inmate has will go through this kiosk system.”

Gibson said the kiosk will save the sheriff’s office the expense of printing out many forms and protect inmates and officers by reducing the need to remove inmates from their cells.