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Counties' security expenses addressed

January 17, 2002

Counties' security expenses addressed



By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Washington County was in the flight path of the hijacked airplane that crashed in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, Washington County Emergency Services Director Joe Kroboth told a state senate committee Wednesday.

"It was only a matter of minutes before that would have been a Maryland disaster," he said.

Kroboth wanted to make the point that rural areas like Washington County aren't immune to the threat of terrorism.

He and other local government officials addressed the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee about the costs of their homeland security efforts in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

County emergency services workers are the first line of defense when it comes to terrorism, they said.

Hagerstown Regional Airport, which is often used by President Bush on trips to Camp David, is on the same high state of alert as Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Kroboth said.

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During the anthrax scare, 600 mail processing workers in Washington County were put on antibiotics as a precaution, he said.

Local governments have incurred millions in unexpected costs since the terrorist attacks and it will cost millions more to make sure terrorists can't infiltrate the state's airports, nuclear power plants, public water systems and public buildings.

The Washington County Sheriff's Department alone put in $125,000 worth of overtime after the terrorist attacks, Kroboth said.

Sen. Barbara Hoffman, D-Baltimore, asked the counties to come up with specific budget requests.

"We can't put money in the budget but we can, you know, do a little talking," she said.

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