An hour before the Board of Public Works and Safety meeting Friday, the city learned it was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

The grant is the full amount the city had applied for. It will be used toward the purchase of a 100 KW towable generator and connection box to support the city government’s server system and the city hall as an Emergency Operations Center (EOC). As a towable unit, it also will allow for off-site use, according to information provided.

Staci Young, assistant to Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer, told the board, “We expect the generator will be closer to $85,000. The (Warsaw-Wayne) Fire Territory budgets each year for emergency equipment and generators, and they do not need those funds for this year like they anticipated they would, and so they are going to be paying for that additional amount to cover the full cost of the generator.”

She said they are going to initially purchase “the grant part of the generator” from that same territory fund, and then that will be reappropriated and reimbursed after the city receives the reimbursement from Homeland Security later on.

“So they’ll be doing a transfer to make sure those funds are in the correct appropriation to pay for the generator, and then that $50,000 will come back and be reappropriated at that time,” Young explained.

She asked the board to accept the grant, and said they couldn’t wait until the Oct. 18 meeting “because in the next few days we will receive an electronic form that has to be signed to accept the grant, so we needed to try to get it in today so we can stay on track with that.”

George Clemens, board member, said it was “great news” that the full amount was granted. He made a motion to approve the grant, and it was unanimously approved.

Thallemer said Young and Fire Chief Mike Wilson worked hard to secure the grant.

“It’s been a process. As we’ve gone through department head meetings, we’ve identified the importance of having backup power, not only in the event of a thunderstorm but something potentially far worse with the city server and so forth,” he said.

Young said, “We have worked really hard the last couple of years to create a central server network. So everything is tied here to city hall and pushed out to the departments, to really centralize all of our IT and data. Our internet and everything also is centralized and pushing out to the departments.”

She said when city hall’s power goes down, after the battery backup runs out after about two hours, that brings down all of the other city departments as well, which is an issue especially to critical emergency services.

“So this generator will allow us then to have wastewater department come. They will get it hooked up. The building has been rewired to support a generator now, so this will be a dedicated generator for city hall when that happens,” Young said.

Since the generator will be towable, it can be moved off-site if necessary, giving the city some flexibility.

“Part of the intent of this grant as well was to kind of develop city hall as an emergency operations center, assuming that this building is not the one that is directly impacting,” she said. “And that’s something that Homeland Security really encourages communities to do – is to identify an Emergency Operations Center that you can establish when there’s a community emergency going on.”

She said city hall has a good structure to be an EOC with the clerk’s and mayor’s offices, meeting spaces and server system all being in it.

Wilson said, “Our county (Emergency Management Agency) has an Emergency Operations Center in the basement of the Justice Building. If that’s overrun, or if there’s an issue there, the way this building was designed – with your council chambers; for financial with the clerk’s office being able to be right here in the same location; and securing the second floor for law enforcement, for fire, for street department; and having a lobby that you can use for a press release area, this building really fits that request.”

If the city were to have something drastic happen only in the community, or as part of a large-scale disaster where the county was working out of its EOC, Wilson said, “We will be able to communicate through to them, if we’re still standing. And we’ll have the power here, our serves here, but it gives all the agencies and department heads with the council to locate and work out of.”

Thallemer said the grant was pretty competitive. Young said there were 146 applicants for it.