Grant money sought for new EOC

Published 10:29 am Friday, June 10, 2011

A chance to bring $1 million in federal grant money to the county could turn into a centrally located Emergency Operations Center in Ironton.

Commissioners at their Thursday meeting approved applying for U.S. Department of Homeland Security funds that, if received, would be the first step into making the center a reality.

The center would house the administrative offices of 911, Lawrence County Emergency Medical Services, the coroner and possible the Emergency Management Agency. Right now there is no public office for the county coroner.

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“This is something that should have been done years ago,” Les Boggs, commission president, said. “This grant opportunity comes at a good time. We have been looking at sites for the last few months. I have been out on several occasions with representatives from the coroner, the EMS and 911 looking at various sites in the city.”

The county could get up to $1 million in grant money, which would have to be matched with a local contribution of $250,000. Officials are trying to determine if that match could be an in-kind contribution of land.

A possible site for the center would be the Clinton Street side of the Open Door School property. The site has access to highways but is far enough away to keep it out of a hazard zone, according to an assessment by architect Shawn Walker.

Right now the offices for the EMS, 911 and emergency management agency are housed in the former county department of human services building on Park Avenue between Sixth and Fifth streets. According to Walker’s report that structure has multiple deficiencies, including size, construction, access and services. The building dates back to the early 1900s and is made up of two structures. Neither structure meets code requirements for a first responder facility.

Walker and Associates of Ashland were commissioned to draw up preliminary plans for the center that show a concrete and steel building with approximately 14,300 square feet of space. Cost of that plan is estimated at $3.5 million.

“It could cost that much for everything,” Boggs said. “Obviously we would be interested in seeking out low-interest financing. We want to be very frugal with the taxpayers money and looking at all costs involved.”