Last week, on September 16th, the Department of Criminal Justice announced a round of school security equipment grants. In 2013, the House passed HB2343, creating the “School Security Infrastructure Improvement Fund” and “Local School Safety Fund.” The 2013, 2014 and 2015 budgets appropriated approximately $6 million per year for school security infrastructure grants.
This recurring grant fund allows the Department of Criminal Justice Services to offer grants of up to $100,000 per locality and require a 25% local match. Localities are allowed to use the money to fund upgrades to school security like hallway cameras, metal detectors, visitor-identification systems, buzz-in systems and automatic locks on classroom doors.
These funds will help provide much-needed security upgrades to 519 schools and other educational facilities in Virginia. This third round of awards brings the total number of schools and other educational facilities receiving the state funding through the program to 1,348. Schools in the 59th District receiving the 2015 School Security Equipment Grants include: Albemarle County- $48,025 for Benjamin F. Yancey Elementary, Jack Jouett Middle, Joseph T. Henley Middle and Murray High; Appomattox County- $59,118 for Appomattox County High, Appomattox Elementary, Appomattox Middle and Appomattox Primary; Buckingham County- $82,092 for Buckingham County Middle; and Nelson County- $100,000 for Nelson County High.
In the 2015 General Assembly Session I introduced House Joint Resolution No. 644 (HJ644) which states- WHEREAS, in many places in the Commonwealth, local law-enforcement officers may have trouble accessing the Internet while performing their duties; and WHEREAS, in many of those localities, the schools within the school district offer wireless Internet capability; and WHEREAS, the use of a school's wireless Internet capability may offer the advantages of greater governmental efficiency and increased law-enforcement presence at schools; now, therefore, be it RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That Virginia's localities and school divisions be encouraged to partner with local law-enforcement agencies regarding wireless Internet access. This resolution makes WIFI available for all emergency responders on school grounds. This helps add a security presence at our schools if police are there, even if just in their vehicles doing work on their computers in the parking lot. Keeping our children safe at our schools will continue to be a main priority and the above funds, grants and resolution are doing just that.
In other announcements in our district, on Friday September 18th, Atlantic Coast Pipeline formally applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to build a 564-mile interstate natural gas pipeline. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is being asked to certify the public benefit and necessity of the project. The FERC and a number of participating agencies will examine fully a broad number of issues, including public safety, air quality, water resources, geology, soils, wildlife and vegetation, threatened and endangered species, land and visual resources, cultural and historic resources, noise, cumulative impacts and reasonable alternatives.
The 30,000 plus pages of the application and resource reports are available on the ACP website, www.dom.com/acpipeline, and the FERC website. Digital copies will be placed in public libraries along the route as well. Atlantic is required to submit these Resource Reports as part of the FERC process. Information for the reports is gathered through outreach to landowners, elected officials, agencies and other stakeholder groups as well as land surveys and environmental field studies. The FERC staff will use these documents and its research to develop a Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The reports detail existing environmental, cultural and socioeconomic conditions and potential impacts resulting from construction and operation of the proposed pipeline. In addition to outlining potential impacts, the resource reports must explain plans for avoiding, minimizing or mitigating those impacts. Pending regulatory approval, construction is expected to begin in the second half of 2016 and the pipeline is expected to be in service in the fourth quarter of 2018.
If you have any concerns, questions, comments or issues that I or my Aide, Jenna, can help you with, please contact us at (434)821-5929 or email at Delmfariss@house.virginia.gov