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State grant to fund emergency operations center in Allentown


ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The cities of Allentown and Bethlehem are getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money, and two community organizations received their checks on Wednesday.

U.S. Rep. Susan Wild presented the Allentown fire chief with $129,596 through Community Project Funding to help build up the department's new Emergency Operations Center.

"This is going to benefit not only the city departments or the city as an organization, but also the residents," said Allentown Fire Chief Efrain Agosto Jr.

The Emergency Operations Center will be a brand new building used to coordinate regional responses to complex emergencies.

"We can actually have all our, not just public safety, but our utilities come in and speak the same language and have our decision makers all in one room," said Lee Laubach, Allentown emergency management coordinator.

Laubach says the center and its new technology will allow first responders to use real-time information to make split second decisions for the crews out in the field.

It will also expand the fire department's academy, allowing more recruits to come in and be trained, as well as citizens.

"It's going to be good community outreach that we're going to actually give classes in this EOC," said Laubach.

The grant money will be used toward fitting the new space with the necessary equipment.

The plan is to break ground on the center in July with the goal of having it up and running by January of 2023.

"Our community is going to be safer and more protected thanks to this funding," Wild said.

Wild also stopped by the Valley Youth House in Bethlehem on Wednesday to present the organization with $400,000 through Community Program Funding. The money will go toward implementing a new program that will provide in-home mental health services to young children and their families across the Lehigh Valley.

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