Leader Blues

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

TOP STORY >> Grant pleases ASU-Beebe

Leader staff writer

ASU-Beebe has been approved for a $452,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security to pay for an emergency-notification system and security cameras.

Dr. Eugene McKay, ASU-Beebe chancellor, said a notification system that is supposed to alert students and staff of emergencies via cell phones was installed more than a year ago. It has been tested at least three times with poor results.

Some students had their phones turned off and didn’t get the message, he said. Others were using their phones when the alarm call went out.

The new system will use voice-over Internet-protocol technology, which essentially means phones connected to the Internet.

Those phones are already installed in all the offices, he said.

The federal money will pay for phones in every classroom. If the campus is in danger from a terrorist attack, a shooter on a rampage or even a tornado, all phones can be rung simultaneously to get the warning out.

The phones will be installed on three campuses – Beebe, Searcy and Heber Springs – sometime next year after the federal money is received and the project bid, McKay said.

Funds not spent on phones will pay for security cameras at building entrances.

“I think just having them up will make the campus more secure,” McKay said.

McKay said much of the credit for securing funding for the security project goes to Stephanie Nichols, the lawyer he hired as his assistant who took the request to Congressman Vic Snyder and then worked with Snyder’s office for six months until the project was approved.

“I am very pleased to support these projects which provide our first responders the technology and work environments to efficiently and effectively respond to emergencies,” Snyder said when his office announced that the funding had been approved.

“The safety of our faculty, staff, and students is a very high priority for ASU-Beebe,” McKay said. “I am very grateful to Congressman Snyder and our other congressional delegates for their support of this funding.”