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Schools, fire and police get Homeland Security grants

Schools were the main recipients in the latest round of Region 1 Homeland Security grants. School districts in Haakon, Pennington and Fall River counties received more than $266,000 in funds for security improvements.

Small rural emergency response agencies were the other area given priority in the distribution of $690,374, noted Pam Buck, Homeland Security regional grants coordinator.

Haakon County received $119,295 for radios for three fire departments, the Philip ambulance, and equipment to support emergency management operations.

Jackson County was awarded $24,742 to upgrade the communication system for the sheriff's department and to purchase radios for the Kadoka and Long Valley fire departments.

Pennington County agencies received $44,673 for various pieces of equipment. Many rural fire departments do not have enough radios to connect with the state's digital radio system, she said. "Communication is the key in emergency response."

Volunteer fire departments in Fall River County will share approximately $91,000 for radios and pagers. Bennett County will use $21,605 for radios. Shannon County was given $28,450 for a security system at the county shop and radios for the Batesland Volunteer Fire Department.

Schools were a priority in the recent grant awards, Buck said. The committee rejected grants for video surveillance equipment. "Video makes great evidence, but it does not prevent a whole lot of things," Buck said. "We are more in the prevention business."

Hill City, New Underwood, Wall and Edgemont will be adding keyless entries to their schools. They were awarded a total of $145,527. With keyless entries, access to a building is gained using an electronically programmed card-key. A computer system allows schools to limit the validity of a key.

The Rapid City School District received $118,000 to expand keyless entry systems at Stevens High School, and to add keyless entries to Central High School and the Jefferson and Lincoln academy buildings. An emergency lockdown switch for the City/School Administration Center was also included in the grant.