The Little Cypress-Mauriceville school district will receive a portion of what is described as “the most sought-after grant in the nation” to upgrade security issues through the Secure Our Schools program.

Orange County commissioners accepted the $177,000 grant, which the district is required to match, in special session this week.

District officials applied through the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

“Part of the goal of any school is to provide a safe and secure place for the students and staff,” said LC-M Superintendent Pauline Hargrove. “It’s not because we have problems; it’s because we want to prevent problems … we’re honored to be involved with our sheriff and his department.”

The funds will help install a cylindrical locking system to help control key access, said Orange County Sheriff Keith Merritt.
“This is something that several schools throughout the country have gone to,” he said. The grant will also provide safety doors to control access of certain areas, as well as surveillance camera at key entry ways and exits.

“All of the schools are going to get something from this grant,” Hargrove said.

Applied for but not received was funding for additional lighting, but Hargrove said LC-M trustees were confident they could find monies for that.

Merritt added, “Sen. [John] Cornyn’s office told me when we were first awarded the grant that it was the most sought-after grant in the nation. There was only $16 million that went out to the whole nation.”

County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said things continue to look up for what FEMA wants to pay for, versus what the county applied for in courthouse basement damage caused by Hurricane Ike.
The county wants to build a new, elevated structure near the courthouse to house basement items, including a new elevated generator.

But after applying many months ago for some $800,000, FEMA told county officials recently it only wanted to foot $400,000.
One problem, Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Kelley told commissioners recently is that FEMA’s calculated space of the new building is not as big as it should be – and that many large electric cables in the basement would not fit into the projected new structure.

In Monday’s session Thibodeaux called a meeting with FEMA officials last week “very good.”

“The individuals who came were very interested in the project,” he said. “They want to resolve any issues we have, and they went so far as to visit the basement.
“[They realized] the things that need to be done cannot be placed in the square-footage area they’d [originally] come up with. They’re working on that. We haven’t heard back from them but it was very positive and very responsive from FEMA, and hopefully we’ll get that straightened out and we can move forward.”

Commissioners set Dec. 4, a Friday, from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. for county offices of non-elected officials to close for individual department Christmas luncheons.
The county hasn’t had a countywide Christmas luncheon in many years, Thibodeaux said.