Sunday, April 2, 2006

 
 

County preps with counter measures to bioterrorist attack
Community Readiness Initiative seeks volunteers
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KAUFMAN–What would happen in the event a biological agent was introduced to the community?
Could the county dispense antitoxin fast enough to protect its citizens?
A Community Readiness Initiative is being adopted for Kaufman County to ensure quick action in an emergency.
Steve Howie, the county coordinator for the program, said he offered to help when he first heard about the initiative from Kaufman County Director of Emergency Management Kathy Paget.
“I would like to ask the residents of this area to volunteer. It involves some training, but it is a minimum amount of time to commit to volunteering,” he said.
He added approximately 42 volunteers are needed.
The program involves the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and Community Readiness Initiative (CRI).
The SNS is the strategic placement of medications that will be needed in mass treatment in the event of either a bioterrorist attack or a naturally occurring epidemic.
The CRI is a plan to prepare counties to dispense the medications in a time frame that allows for the best possible outcome, Howie said.
“Our goal for our county is to be able to inoculate or medicate between 95,000 and 100,000 citizens within 48 hours,” he said.
The sites within Kaufman County are five high schools: Kemp, Forney, Crandall, Kaufman, Terrell and Kennedy Elementary School, in Terrell.
There are not enough government agency personnel to meet the county’s requirements.
That is why citizens of the county are being asked to volunteer.
“But residents will not be restricted to any one site. If one site is crowded, then they can go to any other designated site,” Howie explained.
Although contracts with the schools were set up about a year ago by the Texas Department of State Health service, other sites could be added in the future.
“Our biggest problem will probably be the north western sector of the county as the area around Forney and Combine are experiencing phenomenal growth,” Howie said.
In case of an emergency, the 42 volunteers will be divided into two 12-hour shifts of 21 personnel.
“What we need now are volunteers to staff these sites by volunteering now and receiving the necessary training,” he said.
The positions include, but are not limited to: clerical/data entry, security (law enforcement), safety, EMS, educators, facility maintenance, janitorial, food service, inventory control, and administrative.
Howie is a Dallas fireman, with a lot of experience in volunteering.
He worked with the Red Cross for many years helping firefighters.
Then in 2004, he formed the Emergency Service Unit to provide water, Gatorade and other needs to firefighters battling fires.
Although their equipment is extremely well insulated, within the first 10 minutes of a fire, a fireman’s temperature can rise to 104 degrees, Howie said.
Howie and his wife Penny, live in Terrell. They have two sons, Phillip (20) and Clinton, who will graduate from Terrell High School in May.
Howie plans to retire at about 55, or in six years.
For more information, or to volunteer your time or expertise, call Steve Howie at (972) 989-9409.

 

No EDC funds until guidelines formed
Becki Brantley
Monitor Correspondent

SEVEN POINTS–Joni Espinoza left the Seven Points Economic Development Corporation (EDC) meeting disappointed, but all the more determined to fight her cause.
The Board made a decision to table her request for a $13,804 forgivable loan.
The request was made on behalf of Main Place Cinema, owned and operated by her parents, C.D. and Lucy Smith.
Espinoza stated the funds were necessary for minor construction to ensure the safety of customers going in and out of the theater, after the city closed off a portion of the road which circles back to East Cedar Creek Parkway.
“We would like to construct an ‘L’ going around the right side of the building and across the back, connecting to the main road. That way, people leaving the theater won’t have to drive under the portico where people are dropping off and picking up children,” Espinoza explained.
The plan calls for completing the roadway by the beginning of summer, when theater hours extend for matinees, she said.
She proposes the forgivable loan be repaid through the EDC’s portion of sales taxes, generated by movie-goers.
Board member Hank Laywell suggested having a workshop to set guidelines for grants and loans.
In view of the roadway widening along State Highway 334, planned to begin in the next 12 -18 months, more businesses are expected to ask the city for funding, board members heard.
The board hopes to have a plan in place before its next regular meeting in April.
Mark Hughes was the only dissenter, stating “Something needs to be done toward this safety issue before a child gets hurt, not after.”
In other business, the board:
• appointed Cheryl Jones as EDC secretary.
• appointed Randy Esslinger as website coordinator, to update its website.
• tabled a request from the owners of the Country Music Hall on State Highway 274 for a grant, pending the formation of guidelines.
• heard from Waitgo Corp., who is seeking additional funding to complete the Whatz-Up Family Entertainment project.