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County talks preliminary plans for E911 and emergency ops center
BOC 2022
The Dawson County Board of Commissioners met for their regular bi-weekly work and voting sessions on June 16, 2022.

The forthcoming E-911 and Emergency Operations Communications (EOC) building was one of two high-priority SPLOST projects discussed during the Dawson County Board of Commissioners’ June 16 work session. 

County manager David Headley told the commissioners about current design details and land considerations for the future EOC/E911 building. 

Voters approved Dawson County’s special purpose local option sales tax, SPLOST VII, on March 16, 2021. The measure included a planned $5.5 million for the EOC and E911 center, which has been collected to date, Headley said. 

Considering the $3 million radio system upgrade project, that makes for a total of $8.5 million between the two SPLOST projects. 

The EOC/E911 center and radio system projects will come before the board again for future votes to release requests for price (RFPs).

Dawson County Emergency Services and Sheriff’s Office staff have visited a few sites that mirror the needs of the county, Headley said. 

He spoke in more detail about the county’s old facilities and fleet maintenance site, a four-plus acre portion of land along Ga. 53. That site, which the county already owns, is also being considered as a location for the forthcoming health department. 

A limited subsurface investigation was done on the property that found the county would be at a moderate risk of developing the site, Headley said. Due to its past use as a fleet and road department site, some related contaminant or unsuitable soils could be there. 

Headley showed rough design plans for both the EOC and E911 portions of the building. Tentative EOC floor plans included offices for EMA leadership, a receptionist and other personnel; a conference room and large classroom space; bunk rooms; and a kitchen/breakroom and bathrooms. The EOC classroom could be used as a training area and as an operations room during times of disaster.

The proposed E911 floor plan entailed director and assistant director offices; large open space and conference room; storage and server rooms; and a kitchen, bathrooms and lockers. 

Looking at the draft plans, BOC Chairman Billy Thurmond wanted to ensure the county incorporates dual purposes into designs so there’s not double the rooms or space needed and money can be saved.

“Just because we said five-and-a-half million dollars, I wouldn’t have a whole bad heartburn if we had a few dollars of that left to go to the radio project,” said Thurmond, “and I don’t think anybody on the board would either.”

The chairman elaborated that the intent should be to build a building that’s sufficient for multiple years without going “way out above and beyond” in terms of project scope and cost. 

“Personally, I’d like for the board to see that design up front to get some preliminary cost estimate so let's not be looking at a 15,000-square-foot building we can’t afford.”

Headley later clarified that the center could potentially be two stories and that staff would be looking at the forthcoming plans in more detail before putting a scope of work together to prepare for the RFP.