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Neal announces millions of dollars in federal funds

Date: 8/1/2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD — Congressman Richard Neal announced two federal allocations of funds last week for the city.

Speaking at police headquarters on July 27, Neal came bearing the news the city has been granted $15.2 million by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help reimburse Springfield for the clean-up costs from the October 2011 Nor'easter.

Mayor Domenic Sarno said the city spent between $28 million and $30 million to remove 500,000 cubic yards of debris caused by the heavy snow.

Sarno noted the city still needs additional funds to fully reimburse it for that storm and is still waiting for reimbursement from FEMA for the June 2011 tornado.

The money needed to undertake the rebuilding projects in the city, Sarno added, is about $106 million.

Neal noted, "This is not free money." He added to obtain the reimbursements, city officials had to submit "reams of documents"

The other federal funding announcement was a $170,000 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant from the Department of Justice that will be used to upgrade technology at the Springfield Police Department, according to Police Commissioner William Fitchet.

The grant will be used to improve the digital storage capacities of the department; upgrade 12 laptops used in cruisers; bring the resident monitoring in cells up to date; and purchase a "smart board" for the department, new ballistic curtains for the firing range and a crash data retrieval system so police can obtain information from the 'black boxes" that are now in cars, similar to those that have long been in airplanes.

Fitchet said, "Information is critical to the protection of officers in the field."

He credited Sgt. Brian Elliot for writing the grant application that secured the funding.