Members of the Local Emergency Planning District (LEPD) discussed changes in the way the Missouri Emergency Planning Commission (MERC) will distribute funds to local committees and districts at their October meeting.
David Compton, director of the Barry County Office of Emergency Management, advised members that Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) funds would no longer be alloted to counties based on highway miles.
Officials at the MERC have decided to have districts apply for grants to be used for training purposes. They will no longer allow approximately $1,000 in funding used toward planning grants in the state.
"We used the money to produce those manuals," Compton said. "I feel the two regional people who are getting paid to do it should come down here and write the plans."
Lawrence County Emergency Management Director Chet Hunter agreed.
Additionally, training classes underwritten by those funds must have 10 to 15 participants to be held.
"Training requests must be submitted to and approved by the MERC," Compton said. "While the MERC has made good use of the money that is out there, it has not made up for the money [local committees] aren't getting."
The bad economy has impacted many of the local and regional conferences, whose organizers are not sending out as many mailers soliciting attendance and outlining conference highlights.
"Everyone's money has dried up," Compton said.
One change to the conference schedule is the annual State Emergency Management Agency's annual conference, planned for April 3 through April 6 at Chateau on the Lake at Branson.
More information about that conference will be available as plans are finalized.
Several law enforcement and industry leaders will be attending a conference hosted by the Walmart Corporation in Bentonville, Ark.
"The Bentonville Emergency Operations Center is a very sophisticated system," Compton said. "They monitor their stores and weather on a worldwide level, and if, for example, an ice storm hits a region of the United States, they know what winterization products to ship to that area immediately.
"They also monitor their store systems," Compton continued. "If one of their freezers is two degrees off, they call someone to repair it immediately."
In other news, Playpower, Inc., recently hosted a successful training exercise at its Monett plant. The scenario included a punctured diesel fuel drum, with responding agencies taking approximately 10 minutes to be dispatched and have the hole sealed.
Unfortunately, during the plant evacuation portion of the exercise, Jeff Bowman, environmental health and safety manager at Playpower, said several employees did not follow proper evacuation instructions and procedures.
Bowman will submit his after-action report on the exercise to the LEPC.
The City of Aurora is in negotiations to purchase a ladder truck for its fire department.
Fire Chief Robert Ward said the acquisition would enhance not only Aurora's aerial firefighting capabilities but serve as a regional asset in the event of an industrial incident where such equipment was necessary.
"We were very lucky," Ward said. "This unit is a 75-foot, 1996 ladder truck with 200,000 hours on it. We are getting it for a fraction of the cost a new unit would be.
"It will be a very good industrial asset," he continued. "It's better to have two aerial devices working simultaneously."
The next regular meeting of the Local Emergency Planning District will be at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17 in the Community Room at 1901 E. Cleveland in Monett.