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Emergency workers make their case for funding

Emergency management officials are encouraging lawmakers not toforget them as they begin dividing up funds in a tight budgetpicture.

Funding was the topic last week during a Mississippi CivilDefense and Emergency Management Association meeting withlawmakers.

Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey attended asthe District 9 representative on the association’s board ofdirectors. He said association officials stressed the importance ofboth state and federal funding for local emergency managementagencies.

“We tried to impress upon them how important that funding wasand whatever they could do to help us would be appreciated,” Galeysaid.

Lawmakers were supportive but made no promises on fundinglevels. Dist. 92 Rep. Dr. Jim Barnett, a member of the HouseAppropriations Committee, said the bill had not been brought up fordiscussion yet.

“We certainly believe in that organization, and we’ll doeverything we can to fund it as close to their request as we can,”Barnett said.

Galey mentioned a state trust fund that is used to assistcommunities in recovering from disasters when federal assistance isdenied. Alluding to a recent denial of federal assistance after atornado struck Newton, Galey said that trust fund is important inhelping the recovery effort.

“We’re trying to encourage them to put more money in it,” saidGaley, adding that the association would like to see funding levelsrequested by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove approved.

Possible ramifications of Homeland Security reorganization arealso on the minds of civil defense officials. Galey indicated apossibility of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)coming under the Office of Homeland Security.

“We have some concerns about local programs continuing to befederally funded,” Galey said.

Currently, Galey said, the federal government sends EmergencyManagement Program Grants to the states, which in turn disperse thefunds to city and county agencies. He said there was a concernabout that money getting “lost in the shuffle” during areorganization.

“We don’t want that to happen,” Galey said.

Galey said approximately $16,000 comes to the Brookhaven-LincolnCounty Civil Defense Office under the program.

“If I were to lose $16,000 from my budget, it would put me in abind,” Galey said.