By: Jessica Kirkpatrick / Staff Writer, The Record Delta
BUCKHANNON- It was announced at the Upshur County Commission meeting on Thursday Oct. 11 that a grant was awarded to both Upshur and Lewis County Schools. The grant, which is provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), will provide $309,150 under the 2018 COPS Stop School Violence: School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) to Lewis and Upshur Counties’ $412,200 total project.
A joint initiative of the Upshur County Commission, Lewis County Commission, Lewis County Schools, and Upshur County Schools received the federal safety and security grant to upgrade and equip all board-owned education facilities in Lewis and Upshur Counties with state of the art surveillance systems.
“This grant provides funding to ensure the installation of a district-wide camera surveillance solution in all our schools, replacing antiquated systems” said Technology Director for Upshur County Schools, Glenna Clutter.
According to a press release, this new system will provide security and emergency preparedness at the schools, as well as help in assisting in investigations of disciplinary infractions such as bullying, assault, and substance abuse.
Jeff Tidd, Technology Supervisor of Lewis County Schools, said “This grant will allow us to harmonize our security across the school system. We plan to upgrade our security infrastructure by installing security cameras, network video recording systems, and periphery devices that will enable us to view the safety and security of our buildings from any device. In addition, it will allow the necessary law enforcement agencies easy access to our digital security system ensuring the utmost safety in times of crisis.”
Sergeant Cayton of the Lewis County Sheriff’s Departments also commented at the commission meeting on Thursday saying the police department and 911 center is hoping to have an app that goes along with this program so they will be able to see the security system. Although the 911 center will not monitor the system constantly, it will be helpful to them to be able to view the schools in real time so if there is ever an instance of an active shooter they will be able to direct law enforcement to the correct location.
“The funding is crucial to our security efforts. It will allow us to fast-track a high-priority project, and complete it all at one time” said Superintendent of Upshur County Schools, Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus.
The Upshur County Commission served as the applicant for the joint effort. Commission President Sam Nolte stated “the benefits of a top-notch education for our children are well known, however, a safe environment must first exist before learning can occur. We were happy to serve as the applicant for this project as it will aid our PRO Officers, other local law enforcement agencies and the Board of Education personnel to ensure this safe environment is available. We share this commitment with the Lewis County Commission and were eager to partner with them to make this project a reality.”
The SVPP grant is a national, competitive grant program. Lewis and Upshur Counties partnered on this project to increase its attractiveness in the eyes of federal reviewers.
Dr. Robin J. Lewis, Superintendent of Lewis County Schools, said “Lewis and Upshur Counties already share the Fred Eberle Technical Center, so we started there. Our counties also share a local emergency planning committee; our emergency responders have reciprocal agreements to assist one another. The unifying connections between the two counties just went on and on. The partnership for this grant is a natural fit.”
Local officials expect the project to be finished in two years.