County to put funds into new emergency operations & facilities building

by Kate Shunney

Morgan County Commissioners approved a request from Office of Emergency Services Director Jason Hoover to move ahead with construction of a $430,000 building to house the county’s facilities department, along with storage and meeting space for the Office of Emergency Services and the Morgan County Emergency Communications Network.

Hoover made the request at the June 7 meeting of the commission.

He told county officials he had assisted the Emergency Communications Network – an independent group providing ham radio and backup communications for the county’s emergency system – in getting a grant to get a facility to work out of.

Hoover said the original proposal to FEMA was for the group to occupy space in a local facility, later said to be the Ice House, but that facility was no longer an option.

The $189,000 FEMA grant proposed the Emergency Communications Network space would be an alternate location for Morgan County’s Office of Emergency Services or an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in case of disaster or a major event.

Hoover proposed the county provide the grant’s match of $63,000 and let him use the funds to build a 120’ by 50’ building by The Pines Opportunity Center to house the alternate EOC, the Emergency Communications Network and space for Morgan County’s facilities department.

Hoover said the county could lease space to the Emergency Communications Network for a nominal amount.

The building could be divided into three portions with firewalls separating each section, he said. Training space, a meeting area and garage would be part of the building.

Hoover said estimates for the building came to $430,000. He requested $240,000 in funding from the county.

Commissioner Joel Tuttle questioned if the FEMA grant could be used for the entire building, even though a third would be used for county facilities purposes.

Hoover said a portion of the Emergency Operations Center and OES office could be built with FEMA funds.

Commissioner Bill Clark recommended using American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds for the county’s portion of the building, and using carryover funds for the $63,000 grant match portion of the cost.

Commissioners voted unanimously to move ahead with the funding and building project.

The building will stand to the north of The Pines near Independence Street.