NEW CUMBERLAND - Hancock County just got a step closer to having a new 911 dispatch center.
Hancock County commissioners agreed Thursday to begin soliciting construction bids for a two-building complex on state Route 2 that will include a new home for the Hancock County Health Department and new offices for the 911 dispatch center and office of emergency management. All three agencies currently occupy quarters in the Hancock County Courthouse and a neighboring building.
The single-story buildings have been in the planning stages for more than a year, and county officials are anxious to have them "under roof" so that work can continue into the winter months. If all goes according to schedule, the buildings should be ready for occupancy by early 2014, said Thomas Zielinsky, executive director of the county's office of technology and communications.
An advertisement soliciting general contractor bids will be posted on the county's website (HancockCountyWV.org) and published in area newspapers the next two Thursdays, Zielinsky said.
Construction documents prepared by L.R. Kimball architects, of Ebensburg, Pa., will be available to interested contractors by April 29. A pre-bid meeting with all potential bidders will be held at the project site - Route 2 and Rockyside Road - at 10 a.m. May 15. Bid documents are due by noon May 31.
County officials hope to keep the project costs for both buildings - 4,200 square feet for the health department and 6,600 square feet for the 911 center - at or below $5 million, Zielinsky said. "A lot of that depends on how the bids come in," he said.
Another factor in the project's price tag is the fact that much of Hancock County lies within the 10-mile emergency planning zone for FirstEnergy's Beaver Valley Power Plant, a nuclear facility in nearby Shippingport, Pa.
Because of Hancock County's close proximity to the power plant, the 911 center must be built according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission specifications, Zielinsky said. That could drive up the cost of the project, which will be paid for with county funds, bank financing or some combination thereof, he said.
"We'll look at all the available (funding) options," Zielinsky said.
It's possible that FirstEnergy, which operates Beaver Valley Power Station, will fund part of the project, he said. FirstEnergy already contributes about 65 percent of the office of emergency management's annual budget.
"They have been an excellent partner in working with Hancock County. They have met us more than halfway," Zielinsky said, noting that negotiations with FirstEnergy already are under way to develop a budget for the next fiscal year.
In a related matter, commissioners authorized all Hancock County dispatchers to be trained in emergency medical dispatching procedures per new West Virginia guidelines that became law last year.
Commissioners named Dr. Anna Suray of Weirton as medical director of the training program and authorized the formation of a 12-member oversight committee.
The 911 dispatch center employs 12 full-time dispatchers and seven part-time dispatchers, who handle emergency calls for six volunteer fire departments in Hancock County, the Chester and Weirton police departments, the Weirton Fire Department and the Hancock County Sheriff's Department.
In 2012, the center did dispatching for 29,470 incidents, handled 23,027 emergency 911 calls and made 28,124 outgoing calls, according to center Director Tracy Lemley. Many of the 911 calls were hangup calls that had to be returned, she said.
Also Thursday, commissioners:
- Entered into a new phone contract with Frontier Communications to handle all county office phone lines at a cost of $1,530 a month.
- Accepted the retirement of administrative assistant Ann M. Spetek, effective May 1.
- Approved the resignation of Hancock County Abandoned Building Ordinance Committee member Don Murray and the posting of the vacancy on the county website.
- Approved the resignation of Hancock County Parks and Recreation Board member Cathy Colabrese and the posting of the vacancy on the county website.
- Authorized the Oakland Public Service District to use county rights-of-way on Daniel Drive, Kit Drive and Lowes Drive for the purpose of installing an underground water line. The Oakland PSD is nearing the final stages of a $5 million project to improve water quality for existing customers and extend water service to 81 new customers.