Security grant application submitted

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 4, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; With a deadline approaching, the Concordia Parish Police Jury submitted a request for a Homeland Security grant to better protect its courthouse.

The request, which comes with a price tag of $97,218.90, was drawn up by Homeland Security and Office of Emergency Preparedness Director Morris White in coordination with jury President Melvin Ferrington.

It calls for the placement of a manned metal detector at the main entrance and electronic locks at the courthouse&8217;s other doors that would allow access only to authorized personnel.

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Wireless alert buttons would be placed in the courtroom and digital video equipment would allow the sheriff&8217;s office to monitor the halls as well as activity outside the courthouse.

White said he and Ferrington worked on the proposal since the jury received letters in January from Rep. Rodney Alexander and Sen. David Vitter asking for requests.

&8220;Mr. Ferrington and I have been working on this ever since we found out about it,&8221; he said.

Alexander, R-Quitman, sits on the appropriations committee, which awards the grants.

Vitter, R-Metairie, asked for grant proposals from his constituent parishes in order to help shepherd them through the process.

The requests were due in their offices today, which meant White and the jury had to hurry.

Concordia Parish Sheriff Randy Maxwell approved of the details of the plan, spokeswoman Kathleen Stevens said.

&8220;The sheriff supports it for the safety of the public as well as the courthouse employees,&8221; she said. &8220;Anything to beef up the system and protect people.&8221;

The request asks to be considered by the Homeland Security subcommittee of the House appropriations committee.

The jury also submitted a request on behalf of the Concordia Parish airport.

The $45,000 grant would allow the airport to install an automatic fueling system.

The new system would take credit cards an allow pilots to refuel 24 hours a day, thereby increasing its fuel sales and help the airport continue its march toward modernity.

In 2003, the jury applied for a new fueling system through a Community Block Development Grant from the state. It got lost in the gubernatorial administration change, however, and was resubmitted for consideration in 2005. Hurricane Katrina caused the state to put it on hold.

Both the courthouse and airport requests offer to match some funds, up to 10 percent for the courthouse and 5 percent for the airport.

The requests may be funded fully, partly or denied.