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— On Aug. 7,

Benton County Judge Dave Bisbee was vis

ited by Claire Bailey, director of informa

tion systems for the state of Arkansas; and

David Maxwell, director of the Arkansas

Department of Emergency Management.

During the meeting, Bisbee was told

Benton County was the only county out of

Arkansas' 75 that was denied the Public

Safety Interoperability Communications

Grant.

The purpose of the grant, which was

applied for more than a year ago during

County Judge Gary Black's administration,

was to improve communication methods

between different state departments in the

event of an emergency, Maxwell said.

One way to improve communication

statewide is through the implementation of

Arkansas Wireless Information Network

radios - radios Benton County doesn't

have.

Benton County officials requested a little

more than $400,000 through the grant but

were subsequently denied, Maxwell said.

"The intent of the grant was to improvestatewide interoperability. The grant application (submitted by Benton County) upgraded local equipment but was not statewide, "Maxwell said.

When Maxwell and Bailey made the trip to Benton County from Little Rock, they did so to make sure the new county administration understood why the grant application was denied and to get everything up to date, Maxwell said.

"I'd much rather talk to someone face-toface rather than over the phone," Maxwell said. "While we are state employees, we feel like we are here to help the people."

Homeland Security grant applications for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008 were also late being turned in, Maxwell said.

Since the visit, those grant applications have been turned in.

"We just wanted to make sure (Benton) County as not missing out on grant opportunities," he said.

Overall, Bailey and Maxwell's meeting with Bisbee went well and has resulted in Benton County being caught up on its grant applications, Maxwell said.

"I think the judge appreciates us coming up and getting him up to speed," Maxwell said.

News, Pages 10 on 08/19/2009

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