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Morgan sheriff: $180,000 grant will upgrade helicopter

By Chris Paschenko
DAILY Staff Writer

cpaschenko@decaturdaily.com 340-2442

The Morgan County Sheriff's Department should soon receive a Department of Justice grant that will fund technology purchases and equipment upgrades, U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer announced Monday.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Cramer, D-Huntsville, said he worked with Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, and Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, in securing the $180,000 grant.

In a meeting at the County Commission office, Sheriff Greg Bartlett told Cramer that his department will use the grant to equip its helicopter for nighttime flying missions.

"The helicopter will be able to fly at night with the spotlight, and we'll buy an FLIR system," Bartlett said of the forward-looking infrared technology. "It will help us look for Alzheimer's patients, missing children or suspects without having to wait for a search party."

Cramer, a former Madison County district attorney, said he continues to look for ways to support local law enforcement.

"This $180,000 represents a commitment to technology," Cramer said. "A lot of federal money went to urban areas like New York, Atlanta and Chicago, and county sheriffs were more locked out. I wanted to make sure rural law enforcement got its 50-50 split."

Bartlett said he hoped the grant would reach his office in the next 30 to 60 days. It should take less than a month to equip the helicopter and train personnel, he said.

The grant is part of $62 million bound for North Alabama after its November 2004 approval by the U.S. House of Representatives in the Fiscal Year 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.

The bill provides more than $4.32 million in total funds for programs in Morgan County, including:

  • $3 million for the Interstate 565 extension.
  • $450,000 to the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water and Sewer Authority infrastructure improvements.
  • $400,000 to Hartselle Utilities for waste-water infrastructure improvements.
  • $98,500 to assist the Morgan County Children's Advocacy Center.
  • $72,750 to Parents and Children Together for facility upgrades.
  • $72,750 to the Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts for facilities renovations.
  • $48,500 to the city of Decatur for improvements to Delano Park.

    Limestone County received more than $2.21 million:

  • $1 million for the interchange at Interstate 65 and Limestone County 24.
  • $604,000 for Precision Agriculture at the Tennessee Valley Research Center in Belle Mina.
  • $300,000 to Limestone County Water and Sewer Authority for water system infrastructure improvements.
  • $200,000 to the city of Athens for waste-water system improvements.
  • $97,000 to Athens State University for facilities renovations of McCandless Hall.
  • $10,000 to the Athens City Foundation for a third-grade violin music education program.

    In addition to water authority improvements, Lawrence County received:

  • $500,000 for Bankhead Forest Water Project.
  • $48,500 to the Bankhead Educational Foundation Inc. for facilities planning and construction of the Bankhead Ecosystem Education Center.

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