Commissioners give ARPA update, emergency management director mentions training exercise

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Emergency Management Director Tony Day shared with the Saline County Commission on Thursday morning, May 12, the department is working on communication issues.

“Communication is all important in any incident or catastrophe, and it’s always an issue on every exercise … so we’ve been working on it,” he said.

Day reported the radio room for Emergency Management is coming along and staff is always adding stuff to it.

“We did buy a couple of repeaters for GMRS we’re going to use for our CERT teams and MRC teams and other things that are not involving public service,” he added.

Day stated the department will be conducting an exercise on Saturday morning, May 21, at Indian Foothills Park. The exercise will begin at the Emergency Management building at 8 a.m. He said they will not be at the park until 9 a.m.

“Our scenario is that two small planes collided over the park, lost some parts, but they managed to land at the airport,” Day explained. “With all crashes … they’re going to find the debris, and all the emergency services in town are tied up at the airport … They ask me to have people search the park. So we’re going to have an exercise out there. I’ve invited the Boy Scouts, Civil Air Patrol, some of the volunteer fire department … CERT team, of course, and MRC.”

He added they will be testing the repeaters to make sure they work with the walkie talkies.

“And all of this will not interfere with any of the public service emergency radios,” Day said. “It’s a separate system, and we’re going to check the capabilities of that.”

He added simple exercises like these are usually designed to fail in order to learn what they can do better. Day noted scenarios of things going wrong will also be included.

In other news, Northern Commissioner Stephanie Gooden reported on the American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“The money we’ve spent now is for governmental services, and we are spending heating and air on the annex — on the Emergency Management building,” she said.

Gooden noted this is on the second floor and Day further explained the purpose.

“It’s for continuing operations — a COOP plan for the county — and it can be used by any other cities, also if there’s a power outage or some disaster … the county can meet or the city councils or other towns — what they have — can come and have a place to work while that disaster’s playing out,” Day said.

Gooden added the heating and air were broken and in need of repair at the Emergency Management building — also known as the old jail.

As a result, Southern Commissioner Monte Fenner stated the present balance on the ARPA funds was $157,918.93. He said this is from the county’s allocation from last year.

Gooden stated for an update on the second round of APRA they received information last week. She said hopefully within a month, but the commission was not given a specific date.

Lastly, Presiding Commissioner Kile Guthrey reported the state is supposed to begin the turn lane project on Interstate 70 this month.

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