Local officials meet to discuss anti-terrorism measures

27 Nov 2001 | Lance Cpl. Paula M. Fitzgerald

About 150 emergency managers and senior government officials from 10 Eastern North Carolina counties met at the Paradise Point Officer's Club here for the Terrorism Awareness Workshop Nov. 27.

The event, which was hosted by Base Commanding General Maj. Gen. David M. Mize, was used as a forum for officials to discuss state terrorism initiatives.

"I believe there are a lot of possibilities here that we can use to learn from each other," said Mize during his opening remarks. "I'm really excited about what we have the potential to accomplish today."

The governor of North Carolina, Mike Easley, briefly attended the workshop. His entourage included Attorney General Roy Cooper and Bryan E. Beatty, secretary of North Carolina Crime Control and Public Safety.

"The main reason I'm here is to let everyone in North Carolina know that the state is working hard to prevent something like Sept. 11 from happening here," explained North Carolina's 72nd governor. "Even though you can't always see what's going on behind the scenes, we've been working around the clock to put together a plan to protect the people of this state so no one lives in fear."

Easley went on to say, "The federal government says it's going to allocate funds to the states for emergency response help, but we can't afford to wait any more. To help our cause, nearly $13.5 million has been taken from our rainy day fund. Hopefully, one day we'll be able to pay ourselves back."

In order to make the response to an emergency successful, each individual county must realize that they must be prepared.

"Local officials should know that the state and federal governments are more than willing to help after an emergency," said Easley, "but it all starts at the local level."

Easley used the tragedy of New York to explain his thought. 

"It wasn't state or federal officials who were at the World Trade Center Sept. 11; it was the New York Fire Department and the New York Police Department," stated Easley.

The Military-Civilian Task Force for Emergency Response and the Coastal Carolina Regional Steering Committee for Domestic Preparedness sponsored the workshop.
MCTFER was established in August 1998 as a result of a near tragedy involving a Marine Corps helicopter crash in the local community. The task force's purpose is to improve public safety by coordinating all regional emergency services, both military and civilian, in the event of a regional disaster.

Participating counties and military bases include: Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Sampson, and Wayne Counties with key military officials from Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, MCAS New River, Pope Air Force Base and Seymour Johnson AFB.

Also in attendance for the all-day event were Eric Tolbert, director of North Carolina Emergency Management; Sam Gonzalez, former police chief and Oklahoma City and Incident Commander after the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building Bombing; and Chuck Dolejs, anti-terrorism planner.

"We want to stress to all North Carolinians that we do not want anyone to live in fear," said the governor during his closing remarks.