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Tue, March 19

Bill includes money for university, governments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A $373 billion federal appropriations bill that the U.S. Senate approved Thursday includes $1 million for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott.

The congressional legislation also appropriates $500,000 for the Yavapai County School Superintendent's Office and $40,000 for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.

Embry-Riddle officials hope to establish the best archives in the world for information about airline safety and security.

"In the post 9-11 environment, this is really important stuff," said Richard Bloom, director of terrorism, intelligence and security studies at ERAU.

The university will gather all the information it can about airline safety and security issues, from studies about how to prevent terrorism to videos that teach how to prevent accidents.

"We're really excited about it," Bloom said.

Congressman Rick Renzi said he successfully requested more than $9 million worth of projects for his District One through House Resolution 2673, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2004.

Both the House and Senate have now approved the legislation. President George W. Bush said in a written statement that he will sign it. The legislation combines seven spending bills.

Renzi said he made a special request for $500,000 each for the Yavapai, Coconino and Pinal county school superintendents' offices. They are no-strings-attached appropriations, he said.

The money is meant to help local schools meet the requirements of the federal "No Child Left Behind" law, which is one of the most comprehensive education laws that Congress has ever enacted.

The law increases school standards and accountability requirements, yet it came with little or no money for school districts.

Yavapai County School Superintendent Paul Street said he will form an advisory group to help him come up with a plan for using the money.

The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office already has a mobile command unit that it created from an RV that the office seized in a drug case, but the vehicle still needs $55,000 worth of equipment, Sheriff Buck Buchanan said.

The largest remaining ticket item is a $30,000 mast-mounted zoom infrared camera.

The Sheriff's Office uses the vehicle as a command center for everything from search and rescues to SWAT operations to wildfires. The office lets other law enforcement and fire agencies throughout northern Arizona use the unit, too.

"I was impressed by the fact that he (Renzi) called us and asked what he could do to help," Buchanan said. University and school officials echoed his com-ment.

Some conservatives in Congress and elsewhere criticized the 7,932 home-district projects worth $10.7 billion that the Taxpayers for Common Sense added up in the legislation, according to the Associated Press.

Bloom said the $1 million for ERAU is the opposite of pork.

"What could be more important than the safety and security of the public while they're flying?" he said.

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