If all goes according to plan, Anson County will have a new Emergency Services Center by November 2013.
The new facility will be located on Country Club Road, on the site of the former National Guard Armory building, which was demolished last year. The armory building had been vacant since the National Guard moved out more than 20 years ago.
County Manager Lawrence Gatewood first brought up the idea of constructing a new emergency services base of operations on the site in July of 2011. “I was excited when the Anson County Board of Commissioners entrusted us with $1 million to restore the historic Anson County Courthouse,” Gatewood said. “The renovation is on schedule and coming under budget. Most importantly, this project has been very well received by county residents and visitors.”
The Emergency Services Center will cost an estimated $4.7-5 million, Gatewood told the Anson Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) on Thursday, May 17. That includes about $3 million for the new building and another $2 million to equip it.
“Quite frankly, there has been some sticker shock,” Gatewood said. “The last time the county was involved in building new construction from the ground up was probably Sheriff Allen’s law enforcement center, which was built in the early 80s.”
He admitted it was a hefty price tag, but added that the facility is planned to serve the county for the next 40-50 years, and therefore needs to be built to last. “Similar to the Courthouse and the new Parks and Rec Building, the investment in our public/public safety infrastructure is long overdue,” Gatewood said. “It’s an investment in the safety and security of every citizen in the county.”
Anson County does not currently have a functional emergency operations center. “Right now, if we had a disaster, either natural or man-made,” Gatewood said, “we don’t think we’d be equipped to handle it. This center will fill that purpose. We hope we never have to use it, but we have to be prepared.”
The new 24,000-square-foot facility would house Emergency Medical Services (EMS), the Fire Marshal/Emergency Operations Director and 911 Call Center.
Gatewood will bring the proposal to the county commissioners at the June meeting. If it’s approved, the county will go before the Local Government Commission (LGC) for funding approval. Then, once the commissioners and LGC approve, the bidding process will open in October of this year, with the facility completed in November 2013.
Gatewood pointed out that the population of Anson County is expected to grow over the next few years, with the expected opening of the Monroe Bypass, a new hospital and companies like GrowGreen Power locating within the county.
“I want to make sure that we have the housing, educational and public safety infrastructure in place to drive and support this growth,” Gatewood said. “The other day someone asked me if the county can afford to build the new center. My response was, absolutely! Plus, ‘We can’t afford not to make this investment in the safety and security of all our residents and visitors’.”