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County moves on plans for 911 center

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

A new, larger emergency 911 operations center in Henry County is one step closer to reality. During its June 1 meeting, the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution for a Governmental Encroachment Agreement with Georgia Power, a routine step needed for the new facility.

A bigger building is needed because the current center has outgrown its space, which is behind the Henry County Jail on Henry Parkway, said Don Ash, Henry County Emergency Management Agency director.

The E911 center now in use has a total of 8,500 square feet, and Ash said the new building will provide twice as much space. "We're moving to a facility that's going to give us at least double that size and capacity," he said. "That's to house the E911 center, as well as our emergency operations center."

When the new facility is ready, he said his department will move personnel, operations, and most of the equipment, into the larger building. "Our communications, our fixed infrastructure, will remain at this building," he said. "It's really cost-restrictive to move it to that one, [the new building] and we'll link it through fiber, here."

The new facility will be built in a vacant building, formerly an RV dealership, located at 525 Industrial Boulevard in McDonough, said Ash.

The Encroachment Agreement the commissioners approved was merely a formality required by the county government, said Carol Boatright, corporate communications specialist for Georgia Power.

"In the process of building the county's new 911 center, part of the driveway for the facility will lie within Georgia Power's transmission right of way," said Boatright. "In addition, Henry County will be running fiber optic cable from the old facility to the new addition. As part of the standard procedure, the county was required to acquire an encroachment easement to use part of the right of way.

"This is a common procedure required anytime construction extends into a right of way," Boatright added. "Henry County was not required to make any payment for the encroachment."

When the move is complete, Ash said his department will no longer use the building housing the E911 center on Henry Parkway. "There's several discussions going on," he added. "Our sheriff has expressed an interest in this facility, but ultimately, the commissioners will decide what's the best use for the building."

Ash said building the new facility is expected to take 12 months, although no start date for the construction has been set. The next step in the process will be the design stage, he said.

The architect will be JKH Architects, LLC, out of Dalton, Ga., said Lynn Planchon, assistant project/purchasing manager for the county's Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) Department.

The cost to pay the architects will be $85,260, which will come from SPLOST III funds, said Planchon. The details of the interior of the future new E911 facility have not been worked out yet, Planchon added. "The architect just recently got on board," she said.

The E911 center has been at its existing location since 1994, said Ash.