Sunday, December 3, 2023

Homeland Security grant could fund ship-on-fire exercise in Brunswick

The Brunswick County Board of Commissioners will consider a tabletop exercise grant and more at a meeting Monday evening. (Port City Daily/File)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — The emergency services department of Brunswick County has been approved for a $12,000 grant to conduct a multi-agency tabletop exercise, to simulate an emergency situation. 

County staff has recommended the board of commissioners approve an agreement with N.C. Department of Public Safety to obtain the grant funds at the board’s Feb. 21 meeting. 

The funding would come from the Homeland Security Grants Program, according to the meeting agenda: “The exercise will be related to a large vessel fire on the Cape Fear River impacting both the waterway and surrounding communities.”

Brunswick County Emergency Services would spearhead the exercise, which would include actors at the state and federal level, too. The U.S. Coast Guard and Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point are listed as participants. 

The Homeland Security Grant Program, overseen by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, dolled out $415 million in the 2021 fiscal year. 

“The Homeland Security Grant includes a suite of risk-based grants to assist state, local, tribal and territorial efforts in preventing, protecting against, mitigating, responding to and recovering from acts of terrorism and other threats,” according to FEMA’s website. “This grant provides grantees with the resources required for implementation of the National Preparedness System and working toward the National Preparedness Goal of a secure and resilient nation.”

Details about the planned exercise are limited, but the overview in the grant application stated the tabletop drill would “bring responding agencies necessary to respond to large commercial vessel that has run aground and on fire.” 

The exercise itself would be conducted later this year between early October and the end of November, should the county commissioners approve the grant agreement. 

Also on the agenda for Monday’s meeting, commissioners plan to contract with a financial advisor to manage issuing the third phase of a major bond. Voters in Brunswick County approved the issuance of $152 million in general obligation bonds in November 2016, in three phases, “to construct, improve and renovate school facilities.” 

The third phase, $51.5 million, is planned for issuance this coming summer, but the financial advisor hired by the county in January has backed out of the arrangement, according to the meeting agenda. 

Davenport Public Finance has agreed to provide the county the same financial services it planned to receive through the previous firm, at a cost of $30,000. The county manager is recommending the board of commissioners hire Davenport. 

The board also plans to approve a one-year contract for audit services with the firm Martin Starnes & Associates, which has contracted with the town for seven years. The county’s health services wing has requested creating two “Temporary Communicable Disease Nurse” positions using state funds; the board is also expected to schedule a public hearing on Apr. 18 “to hear any comments or suggestions on the Public Housing Agency goals, objectives and policies.”

The board of commissioners will meet at the Brunswick County Government Complex, Monday, February 21, at 6 p.m. 

Readers can scope out the full agenda here

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