BENTON COUNTY 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
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
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