911 board plans new Oneonta center

The Blount County 911 Board met in regular session on Aug. 16 and discussed in detail the building of a new 911 center at the existing location on Jack Fendley Drive, across from Woodland Park, in Oneonta.

After poring over architectural plans extensively and discussing in detail space allocations shown for various functions, the group decided to expand the existing 4,300-sq.-ft plan by 1,000 square feet to allow adequate room for future growth in coming years. The building will house a dispatch area where operators receive calls, a training/conference/multi-use room, a kitchen, equipment bays, offices, and specialty service areas – all within a hardened structure to provide security for those working inside.

Expanding the plan was estimated to result in a final cost of construction of about $800,000, roughly $200,000 more than the Board has available in its construction fund. Board member Brandon Horton volunteered to consult with the agency’s accounting firm to determine whether the expansion proposed can be accommodated prudently from a financial standpoint.

Horton had begun the meeting by outlining three matters the group needed to address and decide during the meeting: (1) to authorize a survey of the existing site in order to create a deed for the city of Oneonta to use in deeding the property to the board (2) to get a copy of the survey to the architectural firm along with topographical and soil maps of the site in order for the firm to develop final construction specifications; (3) reach a final decision as to whether to enlarge the building, or whether to proceed with the initial proposed drawings and cost estimates.

The board decided to authorize the survey and Horton agreed to get survey quotations and e-mail them to members. A surveyed lot size of 1.5 acres was considered adequate for future expansion and title purposes.

The 911 board had voted on May 12, 2012, to accept the City of Oneonta’s offer to deed the existing property to the board and to proceed with arrangements for its transfer. The motion to do so carried unanimously.

It was noted that the board’s minutes from that and subsequent meetings did not reflect that a careful comparison had been made of cost factors involved in locating the center at the existing site, as opposed to a site offered by the county commission adjacent to the District 4 work center in Cleveland. Costs of providing infrastructure at the Cleveland location were substantially higher than at the existing location, where infrastructure faculties were already in place.

Members noted that the discussion had been held, but the written cost comparison of the two sites had not been incorporated into the minutes at the time of the meeting. A motion was offered to incorporate the cost comparison data into the minutes “so it’s documented we made a sound financial decision.”

Members briefly discussed a by-invitation meeting planned for Sept. 13 for all fire department and law enforcement chief officers to discuss the project 25 radio system. The meeting will be held at Palisades Park, with supper provided. A motion to mail invitations to the event was passed unanimously.

New 911 officers were elected in the concluding segment of the meeting. Elected unanimously on three successive nominations without opposition were the following: chairman – Lee Rhudy; vice chairman – Tim Kent; and secretary/ treasurer – Brandon Horton.

The 911 board was formed following a countywide referendum in 1990 to create a single easy-to-remember telephone number to use to report all emergencies in the county, and to consolidate dispatch of appropriate responding agencies to a single entity.