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$450K Mobile Command Unit Eyed by South Whitehall

South Whitehall and Upper Macungie township officials agreed Wednesday to seek state and local grants to help pay for a new high-tech mobile emergency command unit.

South Whitehall and Upper Macungie township officials agreed Wednesday night to seek state and local grants to help pay for a new $450,000 mobile emergency command post.

The high-tech vehicle would be equipped with the latest communications technology, including satellite, that could be used in large-scale emergencies that require unified command and control, said Jeff Kelly, emergency management coordinator for South Whitehall.

Officials from the two townships plan to pursue a Pennsylvania municipal assistance program grant from the Department of Economic and Community Development that would pay up to 75 percent of the total cost. They plan to garner support from state legislators and to seek funding from corporations and Lehigh County.

If no grant money is obtained, the townships would each have to pay $50,000 a year for five years to pay for the vehicle, said Tori Morgan, a South Whitehall Township commissioner.

"The grant money determines the direction of this project," Morgan said.

The command vehicle, which is estimated to cost between $425,000 and $450,000, would be used for emergencies in the South Whitehall, Upper Macungie and North Whitehall townships.

Emergency, police and fire officials and representatives from Dorney Park and Lehigh Valley Health Network discussed the merits of owning a mobile command.

At Dorney Park, often as many as 30,000 people attend the park on a Saturday or Sunday in July. "The potential is there for an incident to happen," said Dan Hall, Dorney Park's chief of patrol.

Several cited the need for an incident command unit during the massive emergency response to an intruder incident at Parkland High School last year. Kelly said emergency responders had to jerryrig a command post out of several of their Tahoe trucks that were set back-to-back and use two-way radios.

South Whitehall Police Lt. John Christman said the three SWAT teams at the high school were on three different radio channels. A unified command post "would strengthen communication," he said.

A health network representative said the command unit "is an incredible opportunity for you. It is going to pay for itself in dividends." Failure in emergency events, he said, usually occurs in communication, command or control.

Time for Change 2013 February 14, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Vote out Christina Tori Morgan and Thomas Johns this election year. Why is this vehicle being made available to North Whitehall for emergencies when they did not contribute a dime to the purchase of it? How many emergencies would the vehicle have been used for in the past 5 years? More financial waste and mismanagement , make Dorney park, and LHV, St Lukes, LCCC, Amazon, Nestle, and GEO Chemical pay for it
Saddie Lansford February 16, 2013 at 06:46 PM
Time for Change 2013: You look like the same guy that posted under DemsforSW. Just like last tiime, you failed to read the article. The cost is going to be shared by the townships. '...the townships would each have to pay $50,000 a year for five years to pay for the vehicle, said Tori Morgan' Townships...with an 's'. And if grant money is received, as is likely, it is a huge asset acquired at a very minimal cost. So what's your beef with that? In my opinion, it's foresight in today's climate of current events. What did Christina Morgan and Thomas Johns ever do to you that we have to read your crap every time South Whitehall has a story. Attend a township meeting once and while and you would have an idea of how much the board has done for us.
ConcernedSWTresident February 18, 2013 at 05:15 PM
We can afford this vehicle with a POSSIBLE grant but we can't afford to buy a new fire truck to replace a 26 year old fire engine. What is wrong with this picture? Call the commissioners and find out why they will put your family and property in danger daily but are willing to spend an outrageous amount of money on a mobile radio bus that might get used occasionally. The county already has a mobile comman post that is open to all municipalities. Why are we buying a duplicate service for such a small return on investment
That Guy February 18, 2013 at 07:18 PM
I agree, LVH owns half of the valley anyway they have enough money... if each of those companies (exclude LCCC because there financially strapped) donated 50K it would be paid off in full and then some, and its a great marketing gig. Taxdollars shouldn't be spent on this, nothing ever happens in SWT i've lived here 20 years, we made national news because of a Gas fire, The highschool (for the nude photo scandal) so why do we need a half a million dollar machine to help in times of crysis, borrow one from another township, or here's a Radical idea, STATE POLICE.
That Guy February 18, 2013 at 07:21 PM
Because its America land of the free, home of the fiscally irresponsible.
SWT Resident February 25, 2013 at 02:20 PM
I had heard rumors about this Big Blue on wheels in SWT. Now I KNOW where the extra $$$ that will be collected in 2013 in trash/recycling fees will be going....commissioners "slush fund" spending. Or should we call it ass-kissing for a few people in the township that have a wish list...and good connections? The actual cost of the trash increase is $63,000 yet our trash and recycling went up 20% in year 4 of a 5 year contract and was jammed down our throats. Tell us Tori...where is the estimated balance of this 20% trash increase...which will yield you an extra $387,000... going to be spent? Would it be so you can have this toy??? That's the rumor I am hearing come out of the township walls.

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