Dec 17 2007

Shelby Announces Funding for Birmingham Area Commerce, Justice and Science Projects

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee (CJS), today announced funding for a number of important projects in the Birmingham area.  The funding is included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 and will soon be voted on in the House of Representatives.  The Senate will consider the bill following approval by the House of Representatives. 

“This legislation includes a number of important projects in Alabama and across the nation,” said Shelby.  “The Senate’s action on this bill reiterates our commitment to funding these projects and advancing important nationwide initiatives.”
                                                                      
The Commerce, Justice and Science subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Departments of Commerce (DOC) and Justice (DOJ), among others.        
                                 
Advanced High Temperature Materials Research - $940,000

This funding will be used for research, coordinated between Southern Research Institute and Marshall Space Flight Center, into the development of modeling, testing and characterization techniques for advanced composite materials in extreme environments.

“The severe environments that will be encountered in planned launch systems and other aerospace applications require the use of advanced composites in both structural and thermal protection systems,” said Shelby.  “The successful utilization of these materials in these environments requires testing and evaluations to keep pace with the increasingly severe settings in which they are used.  This funding will identify gaps in current technology and develop applications to solve these challenges, reducing the overall risk to the programs.”

McWane Science Center Science Literacy Program - $235,000

This program will focus on increasing interest and aptitude in the science fields for K-12 students through hands-on activities that will serve as an extension of the classrooms.  Teacher training will also play a major role in the program.

“The McWane Center is one of the premier science centers in the country,” said Shelby.  “Each day it provides students throughout the region with interesting and intriguing programs to help them better understand the way things work and interact in today’s world.  This program will allow the Center to continue to expand its efforts to not only teach students about science, but to raise their interest level to the point of pursuing their interest at the college level.”

Jacksonville State University Science Education Initiative - $250,000

This program will serve as a tool for educators to allow their students to reach their full potential through participation in exciting hands-on projects.  The projects are dynamic in scope and are structured to be less time-restrictive on the classroom schedule and the educator through self-directed curriculum. 

“As our nation becomes more and more dependent on new innovative technologies, we must provide students with the basic understanding of the amazing accomplishments that can be achieved through scientific discovery,” said Shelby.  “We must also provide science teachers with the tools they need to shape students into the doctors, engineers and computer programmers of the future.  I believe that Jacksonville State is well positioned to serve the needs of East Alabama’s youth with cutting edge, hands-on science programs.”

Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) - $587.233 Million

The bill includes critical funding for the law enforcement community to upgrade technology, including in-car computers, cameras and communications systems.  The funding bolsters forensic capabilities and advances the practice of community policing nationwide.  The following grants will assist state and local law enforcement in their ability to protect and serve their communities.  The following projects were included in the Senate bill:

St. Clair County Commission for law enforcement technology upgrades- $164,000
Talladega County for technological upgrades- $211,500
City of Calera law enforcement technology upgrades- $141,000
City of Gadsden for cameras and laptops for police vehicles- $258,500
COPS Nationwide Hiring Program- $20 million
 
“The COPS grant program aims to implement and enhance community policing,” said Shelby. “COPS funding assists law enforcement agencies across the country meet an ever-increasing range of challenges. The $587.233 million provided in the bill will allow police and sheriff’s departments throughout Alabama to take advantage of these grants and increase their enforcement efforts to become more efficient and effective.”            

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Programs - $383.513 Million

The bill provides funding for important at-risk youth programs and research.  The following grants will provide youth programs the resources necessary to respond to juvenile delinquency and support communities in their efforts to develop and implement prevention and intervention programs.  The following project was included in the Senate bill:

American Village for the Building Character and Good Citizenship in After-School Outreach programs- $329,000
 
“We must continue to work with our nation’s young people to provide them with the tools and training they need to become productive citizens and contributing members of society,” said Shelby.

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (JAG) provides funding for law enforcement to implement programs that prevent and control crime based on their own needs.  The following area projects were included in the Senate bill:

City of Bessemer for emergency operations and communications- $141,000
National Center for Victims of Crime for assistance and services to victims of crime- $470,000
Simon Wiesenthal Center for law enforcement sensitivity training for hate crimes and civil rights abuse investigations- $1.598 Million
A Child is Missing- Alabama to maintain and upgrade technology to assist authorities in locating missing children- $47,000

Methamphetamine Enforcement and Clean-up - $61.187 Million

Nationwide, methamphetamine usage is on the rise.  Its use continues to poison our nation and the drug knows no boundaries of age, gender, class or race.  The production of methamphetamines is particularly detrimental to communities, as the materials used to create the drugs are extremely dangerous.  The following area projects were included in the Senate bill:

Jasper Police Department for technology and equipment to combat meth- $949,400
City of Talladega for anti-meth programs- $141,000

“Our bill includes $61.187 million for state and local law enforcement officials to combat methamphetamine production and distribution,” said Shelby.  “This program will also work to target drug hot spots and to remove and dispose of hazardous materials at clandestine methamphetamine labs.”

The following projects and programs in Alabama are slated to receive funds in the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008:

Alabama Statewide Mapping and Height Modernization Project - $423,000

The state will use this funding to continue to plan and produce a high resolution and large scale geospatial database of Alabama. 

“Accurate, high resolution Geographic Information System mapping of Alabama will allow state and local agencies to develop better master plans for the area and, more importantly, prepare for emergencies within the state,” said Shelby.  “The project will allow emergency managers and community planners to utilize the most up-to-date maps available when developing evacuation plans, traffic patterns or community development.”

Alabama Drought Research Study - $752,000

This study is developing methods for industry, agriculture, municipalities and other users of surface water to store and access Alabama’s water resources for the best economic benefit.

“While Alabama has been blessed with an abundance of water resources, we have all seen during this summer’s drought that those resources are not unlimited or constant,” said Shelby.  “Many of Alabama’s research universities, led by researchers at UAH and Auburn, are studying a variety of methods and plans that will allow government, industry and farmers the ability to capture and retain water resources when they are abundant to insulate the state from the impacts of catastrophic drought.  Considering our current severe drought status, I cannot think of a more appropriate project.”

Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center PREPARE Program - $470,000

The Planned Response Emergency Portal and Accessible Response Environment (PREPARE) program will work to establish, develop and operate a center and system for the interstate and intrastate accumulation, storage, retrieval, analysis and dissemination of vital information relating to crimes, criminals and criminal activity for the justice community.

“The integrated technology the PREPARE program provides will improve police officer response times, safety and access to court data,” said Shelby.  “The program will also improve the foundation for partner agencies to share information to better track and manage offenders, respond to incidents and support mutual aid organizations at local, state and national levels.

Alabama District Attorney’s Association Drug and Gang Prevention and Prosecution Program - $1.692 Million

The program will seek to more comprehensively attack the growing drug problem in Alabama and its connections to gang activity through coordination between the Department of Public Safety and the Office of Prosecution Services.

“Increased drug use and gang activity represent an alarming trend,” said Shelby.  “By prosecuting gang and drug offenders, this program will deter Alabamians who may be considering joining a gang or participating in drug trafficking.”

Alabama District Attorney’s Association Computer Forensics Laboratory - $752,000

The Alabama District Attorneys Association has developed three regional computer forensics laboratories to investigate and prosecute all forms of computer crimes such as child pornography and solicitation, white collar crime and identity theft.  The labs are also used to search for evidence in many other cases, to educate officers in the preservation of digital evidence and to educate the public on internet safety.

“As technology expands, unfortunately, so do opportunities for criminals,” said Shelby.  “Thousands of crimes are committed over the internet each day.  As such, our law enforcement community must have the needed technology to track down and prosecute offenders.”

Alabama Department of Corrections Electronic Training and Security Tools - $376,000

The Electronic Training and Security Tools (ETAST) project will continue an effort to develop interactive computer-based training for the Alabama Department of Corrections to satisfy requirements for new and recurring training.  The project will also convert paper architecture drawings into electronic images for the development of three-dimensional situational awareness and training for crisis response teams.

“ETAST will enable the Department of Corrections to provide training more efficiently and effectively,” said Shelby. “This project also will help increase the safety of both officers and inmates at Alabama’s prisons.”

Play by the Rules: Laws for Youth - $94,000

Play by the Rules has provided students in Alabama with a better understanding of the laws that govern society. Phase II of the program will be an effort to expand the program to other states.

“Research shows that law-related education can have a direct impact on a youth’s decisions to commit a crime when put in at-risk situations,” said Shelby. “I hope that Play by the Rules can have the same impact across the country as it has had here in Alabama.”

The following nationwide projects and programs are slated to receive funds in the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008:

Child Sexual Predator Elimination Grant Program - $15.608 Million

The Child Sexual Predator Elimination Grant Program is a new national initiative that will provide grants to state and local governments to locate, arrest and prosecute sexual predators.  These grants will enable state and local law enforcement entities to specifically focus on sexual predators who fail to register, sex offenders who prey upon children and those who engage in child sexual exploitation.  

“It is our obligation to protect our children against these crimes,” said Shelby.  “We must provide the necessary resources to protect our most vulnerable citizens- children- so they will not fall victim to these despicable acts.  I have long supported efforts to protect our children and strongly believe that this funding will go a long way to aid in the eradication of these horrible crimes.”

DNA Initiative and Forensic Sciences Funding - $171.072 Million

$152.272 million for DNA initiative

$18.8 million for Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants

Our nation’s forensic labs have a critical need to reduce backlogs in all areas, particularly in DNA.  This funding will help meet that need while providing the flexibility required for the men and women in the labs to determine their own priorities.

“Significant funding for forensic sciences as a whole is included in our bill, with $152.272 million specifically designated for the DNA initiative,” said Shelby.  “Also included is $18.8 million for the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants.  State and local forensics labs use Coverdell grants to address a variety of needs within the forensic sciences, including DNA analysis.  The bill provides significant flexibility to allow state lab directors to use Coverdell dollars to address the pressing needs of their individual labs and make important decisions regarding the best use of federal resources, including DNA backlog reduction.”

Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) - $130 Million

EPSCoR works with targeted states to help them become more competitive and improve the level of science education.    

“The bill provides EPSCoR with $130 million to assist states, including Alabama, with establishing partnerships with government, higher education and industry that will provide lasting improvements in their research infrastructure,” said Shelby.  “Science is rapidly expanding our understanding of the world around us and will lead to more technology and well paying jobs.  Our students must be armed with a solid science education to succeed later in life.”

Economic Development Administration - $280 Million

The Economic Development Administration works to empower communities recovering from economic distress by assisting them in developing their own revitalization strategies.  Many communities benefiting from EDA assistance have endured economic distress as a result of natural disasters, the closure of military installations and other Federal facilities and the depletion of natural resources.

“The Economic Development Administration provides grants to local governments and non-profit agencies for public works, planning and other projects designed to facilitate economic development,” said Shelby.  “Within these funds, $14.1 million is included for the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.”

JASON Project - $2.209 Million

The JASON Project provides educational and professional development programs geared to engage students in science, math and technology.  Students participating in the JASON Project are given opportunities to participate in authentic, multidisciplinary research directed by leading scientists.  For educators, online professional development courses in science, math and literacy provide them with the tools needed to present these subjects to their students in an engaging manner.

“The bill includes $2.209 million for the JASON Project,” said Shelby.  “These funds will be used to help introduce innovative instructional approaches and improve student and teacher learning outcomes in the fields of math and science in classrooms across the country.”