Crawford County Emergency Management gets COVID grants

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By Ted Pennekamp

 

COVID-19 has made things tough for many, but at least in the realm of receiving state and federal funds, it has been an exceptional year for Crawford County Emergency Management.

“It’s been a good year for us in the grant world,” said Emergency Management Director Jim Hackett, who noted that Emergency Management has applied for and received numerous grants in an effort to keep the county’s residents safe.

In fact, Emergency Management will get a Routes to Recovery Grant from the state of Wisconsin for $416,101.13. The money consists of $270,997 paid directly to Emergency Management, as well as various amounts from numerous villages and townships within the county.

Hackett explained that if a village or township was not going to use their Routes to Recovery funds, they could give the money to Emergency Management instead. Otherwise, it would go back to the state. It was a matter of “use it, or lose it,” he said.

Hackett said the money needs to be used for qualifying expenses such as health responses and public safety salaries. New expenditures that the funds are going toward include drop boxes, masks, wipes, disinfectant, extra custodial workers, and a UV robot that disinfects through the use of ultraviolet light.

Emergency Management received $5,000 from the village of Steuben, $3,437.34 from the town of Freeman, $4,845.95 from the town of Seneca, $7,199.99 from the town of Scott, $6,682 from the town of Wauzeka, $4,524.28 from the town of Haney, $5,000 from the village of Mount Sterling, $5,000 from the village of Bell Center, $10,962.10 from the village of Wauzeka, $898.92 from the town of Prairie du Chien, $3,801 from the village of Ferryville, $15,103 from the town of Clayton, $11,071 from the town of Utica, $13,835.66 from the town of Bridgeport, $8,161 from the village of Gays Mills, $10,436.41 from the town of Eastman, $384 from the town of Marietta, and $28,761.48 from the state of Wisconsin.

Hackett said that Crawford County’s public safety salaries had already been budgeted for, and thus, part of the total of $416,101.13 will be a surplus that will go into the general fund which the county can then spend on what it chooses.

“It (the Routes to Recovery Grant funds) will free up a lot of money,” said Hackett in noting that some of the money can help with shortfalls in revenue that the county is expecting.

“Crawford County is being very fiscally responsible,” said Hackett. “We don’t know when COVID is gonna end.”

Hackett said the county received two other grants which are COVID-related. One grant involves $50,000 from the state. The Sheriff’s Department and the Prairie du Chien Police Department will each receive $25,000. The Sheriff’s Department will be updating software in order to remain in compliance with updated state standards. The Prairie du Chien Police Department will help pay for a new camera system downtown as well as communication headsets and thermal imaging equipment.

The Sheriff’s Department will also receive a grant for $58,000 in order to upgrade technology such as remote support for deputies and all squad cars. Hackett said deputies will now be able to conduct interviews and write their reports in their squad cars wherever they are in the county. They no longer will need to come to Prairie du Chien for those activities. “Each squad car will be like a mobile office,” said Hackett. 

In addition, computers will be upgraded in the mobile command post van. Hackett said that if the dispatch center communication system would ever go down, the mobile command post van could take over those duties without skipping a beat.

An Emergency Management Performance Grant for $11,694.49 will help to pay for the salaries and fringe benefits for extra personnel that may be needed.

Hackett said Prairie du Chien Area Chamber of Commerce Director Bob Moses has been acting as a business and community liaison throughout the pandemic. “He’s done a great job,” said Hackett who noted that Moses has been taking COVID-related inquiries from businesses and individuals and putting them in touch with the proper entities such as clinics and Crossing Rivers Health Hospital. “He’s been a one-stop-shop for COVID inquiries,” said Hackett. “He’s done a lot for us.”

More grants

More grants that are not COVID-related include a 50-50 grant to update ballistic vests for $10,000, a federal Cops Hiring Grant for $125,000, an Emergency Management Performance Grant for $27,179, a federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act Grant for $6,952, a hazardous materials grant for $7,336.79, a Compeer Grant on behalf of the Seneca Fire Department for $3,000, a state Click-It-Or-Ticket Grant for $50,000, a state speed grant for $14,997.92, and a state DOT equipment grant for $4,000.

Hackett said the speed grant is for speeding enforcement and education.

The Click-It-Or-Ticket Grant is for seat belt use education. On average, traffic enforcement grants result in 75% warnings and 25% citations for all traffic stops (not just seat belt or speeding).

Unlike some counties, Crawford County is using all of its grant funds wisely, noted Hackett. “The sheriff, public health, and the county board continue to be very smart with the money,” he said.

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