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Jefferson County looks for homeland funding

December 22, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Local officials are hoping to extend funding for a local organization that has been working on ways to protect the area from natural disasters and possible terrorist attacks.

Jefferson County's Project Impact program, now called Jefferson County Office of Homeland Security, started about two years ago with federal money, said Jefferson County Commission President Jane Tabb.

With Project Impact's funding set to expire in June, local officials are looking for other sources of funding to continue the project, Tabb said.

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Tabb, who said she did not know how much start-up money Project Impact received, said the county will look for "anything we can find" in its efforts for funding.

Project Impact initially dealt with ways to protect the community from natural disasters, such as floods, Tabb said.

The effort also has involved anti-terrorism efforts, such as ways to set up decontamination units in the event of a biological attack, Tabb said.

If there ever is such an attack in a metropolitan area such as Washington, D.C., there is fear that people will flee to the local area, Tabb said.

"It is our intention to not only continue the successful program of preparedness that we have started, but also to update it to reflect the post-9/11 world that we live in today," said Project Impact coordinator Barbara Miller.

If that happens, facilities like decontamination units may need to be in place to help treat people, Tabb said.

In addition to seeking funding to continue the program, its name also has been changed.

Partly due to its expanded mission, the Jefferson County Commission decided last Thursday to change the name of Project Impact to the Jefferson County Office of Homeland Security, Tabb said.

Anti-terrorism preparedness recently has been getting increased attention in the area.

Last month, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., co-hosted a West Virginia Summit on Homeland Security at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's National Conservation Training Center near Shepherdstown, W.Va.

During the two-day summit, local officials were given the chance to meet with high-level experts in the counter-terrorism field. Officials were able to obtain the information they need to effectively protect communities for possible terrorist attacks.

Miller said the newly-named agency is asking for individuals, businesses and organizations to write letters in support of the organization and its search for funding. Letters may be sent to Miller in care of the Jefferson County Office of Homeland Security, P.O. Box 250, Charles Town, WV 25414.

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