County saves its $1 million federal grant

EVERETT – Snohomish County has regained a $1 million homeland security grant that was feared lost because of a missed deadline.

By winning back the money, officials can move to upgrade communications and power supplies at the county’s emergency operations center at Paine Field, a facility used during floods or other disasters.

A six-member panel of regional disaster response officials unanimously chose Snohomish County’s spending proposal during a private conference call Monday.

“The detailed plan that Snohomish County submitted is viable and robust, and the group is going to be happy working with Snohomish County on completing the contract,” said Rob Harper, state emergency management spokesman.

Snohomish County plans to buy an emergency power generator, a special backup power supply, computers and communications equipment.

The money must be spent by Feb. 28, 2007.

“Snohomish County did not lose its money,” County Executive Aaron Reardon said. “We will now continue on with our plans.”

Earlier this month, it was doubtful whether Snohomish County would get the money.

The money was earmarked last year for communications equipment for Snohomish County’s emergency operations center at Paine Field.

The independent Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management won the grant last year, before the county took control of the group.

Then the county missed the Dec. 31 deadline for filing a detailed spending plan. While the county asked for a longer deadline, regional officials opened the money to competitive proposals from the other urban counties and Seattle.

The move was made in case Snohomish County couldn’t come up with a timely spending plan, Pierce County Emergency Management director Steve Bailey said.

“Everyone is pleased that Snohomish County has rallied and put together a great plan and it’s full speed ahead,” Bailey said.

Bailey serves on the panel that manages the federal Urban Areas Security Initiative grant money. The panel includes emergency officials from the state, King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, and the police chiefs of Seattle and Bellevue.

The three-county area has 51 percent of the state’s population, so some federal emergency funds are funneled here for disaster readiness.

Reporter Jeff Switzer: 425-339-3452 or jswitzer@ heraldnet.com.

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