New Hampshire Panel Recommends Grants for Training and Radio System

CONCORD, N.H. -- A review board appointed by Gov. Craig Benson is recommending that New Hampshire's homeland security money go predominantly toward regional training and statewide communications.

Benson changed the way the federal money is allocated by setting up the review panel earlier this year. The previous system awarded funds to communities based on population.

The 12-member Homeland Security Grant Review Board looked at 119 applications from cities and towns and made recommendations on the requests. The state has $17.5 million in federal money earmarked for local communities in 2004. Communities have until November 2005 to spend them, according to Assistant Safety Commissioner Earl Sweeney.

The review board was asked to rank the requests with a view to protecting critical infrastructure, improving training and encouraging regional cooperation.

Benson will review the recommendations with a second five-member panel before deciding which applications to bring before the Executive Council next month, his spokesman said

The review board recommended that most of the money -- $12.2 million -- go toward a statewide radio system that would allow police, fire and safety officials to communicate anywhere in the state.

Another $850,000 is recommended to train regional hazardous material teams and police special operations teams.

Some money is recommended to be set aside so emergency responders, firefighters and police can participate in future training or take courses approved by the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Yet another sum is recommended to be set aside to pay for overtime if extra patrols are needed during terrorist alerts.

Some individual communities did get recommended for funding, including $686,000 for the Seacoast area, $623,000 for Nashua, $310,000 for Manchester.

Some of the items to be purchased with the money include night vision goggles for patrolling the Canadian border, an armored car for the Seacoast SWAT team and a special box to use for suspicious luggage at Manchester's airport until a bomb squad arrives.

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