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State grants totaling $14.7 million will aid emergency response in the tri-county area

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St. Lawrence, Lewis and Jefferson counties will receive state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services grants totaling more than $14.7 million to aid with emergency communications.

The grants, announced Tuesday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, amount to $2,679,690 for St. Lawrence County and $6 million each for Jefferson and Lewis counties to improve communications among the counties.

Jefferson County Emergency Management Director Joseph D. Plummer said the ability for first responders to talk to each other is important when responding to emergencies near county lines.

“Our current system is from the early 1970s,” he said. “We don’t have any [interoperability] capability currently.”

Mr. Plummer said upgrades will take several years and likely amount to $20 million to $25 million. An engineer is currently reviewing the emergency communications system’s needs, he said.

“This will definitely help,” he said.

Jefferson County will also receive a separate grant for $81,781 to purchase upgraded equipment for swift water rescue, Mr. Plummer said. All three counties are members of the Central New York Interoperable Communications Consortium, which Mr. Plummer said helped each win the grants.

The funding is part of $80 million distributed across the state to strengthen emergency preparedness.

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