LAKOTA, N.D. (AP) — Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke is lobbying to change the way federal Homeland Security funds are distributed to North Dakota cities and counties.
Janke said almost all of the $3 million in grants recently awarded by the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services went to the state's four biggest cities.
"My main concern is that rural counties are not getting their fair share of this federal funding,'' he said.
Debbie LaCombe, Homeland Security grant section chief with DES, said the money was for the first phase of a three-phase program. The first phase is money for bomb squads, SWAT teams and hazardous chemical units.
"Unfortunately for places like Nelson County, most of (those units) are headquartered in larger cities,'' she said.
The second phase will concentrate on search and rescue outfits, and the third phase will cover all hazards, LaCombe said.
State Rep. Don Vigesaa, R-Cooperstown, a member of the Legislature's interim Public Safety and Transportation Committee, said there is confusion about the different phases and when groups should apply for money.
Janke said he has come up with several recommendations to improve the system, including reserving some of the money for smaller-scale projects or rural agencies. LaCombe said the recommendations are being reviewed.