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After moving responsibility for 911 calls to the sheriff, county commissioners decided at their Sept. 3 meeting a new 911 call center building should be built next to the sheriff’s office.
The central communications department includes 911 dispatch, Viper radio maintenance and technical support. The division was formerly under the supervision of Anthony Marzano, emergency management director.
A new 911 center, planned as a 10,000-square-foot stand-alone building, was intended to be built right behind the current Emergency Operations Center.
But at the July 1 county meeting, after discussing it in closed session, county commissioners moved the 911 call center under the sheriff’s supervision.
County Manager Ann Hardy said commissioners, who again met in closed session, had to decide if they would continue plans for the new 911 dispatch to be built at the EOC or put the building next to the sheriff’s office.
“There is no design yet, but we are looking where the old jail is coming down,” Hardy said.
Commissioners also directed Hardy to review the feasibility of renovating the existing EOC building once the current 911 center moves out.
The current 911 center in the EOC building at the county complex is about 1,000 square feet. The county has expanded the 911 call area three times since it was built in 1990.
The original center was meant to hold four call operators. The county needs a minimum of eight now. Commissioners discussed adding up to 10 spaces for call operators to be able to grow.
When the EOC building is considered for renovation, the county staff will also determine if stability can be increased. The building is believed to be a structure able to withstand a Category 2 hurricane. The review will decide if the building could be upgraded to withstand a Category 3 hurricane.
“(Commissioner Marty) Cooke was concerned about making people as safe as possible,” Hardy said. “We will look at the feasibility of increasing the wind load.”
Hardy said staff also presented the option of using today’s portable technology to relocate staff to avoid having them in a building during an emergency, but added the feasibility study would be performed “because we want to have a building to come back to.”
Brian Slattery is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.