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June 5, 2014

Commission panel votes on 911 center site

THOMASVILLE — After a lengthy discussion about the location of a new 911 center, the three-member Thomas County Commission public properties committee voted to construct the building at the rear of Thomas County Judicial Center property.

The committee’s recommendation — at Monroe and Stevens streets — will be voted on by the full commission.

Another question bantered about by the committee is how the center will be financed.

The 911 center is currently located in the 100 block of South Crawford Street next to Thomasville Fire/Rescue.

Ann Powell, 911 director, told commissioners the center needs three times more room for equipment. Construction plans might need to include space for future technology, Powell added.

Project architect Leon Lynn said to expand at the current site would cost close to $1 million.

Thomas County and Thomasville governments jointly own property where 911 is located.

Lynn said changes in the parking lot at the site would be significant if the existing 911 building is expanded.

Commissioner Elaine Mays, a committee member, said the existing 911 center was to have been 5,000 square feet, but wound up with half that amount of space.

“Another question is with all the demolition going on, would we be able to work there?” Powell asked.

Mike Stephenson, county manger, interjected that city officials expressed concern about losing parking spaces for downtown merchants.

Lynn said that if the building is enlarged, parking would be needed for 911 staff.

Also, said Lyndall Knight, county government building maintenance supervisor, consideration must be given to space for a back-up generator and the type of generator fuel to be used.

Officials estimate a total cost of $1.7 million for a new 6,800-square-foot building and equipment.

“How are we going to do it?” asked Commissioner Wiley Grady, committee chairman.

Money available for the project totals $867,384. The sale of timber from county-owned land and a city buy-out of current housing were mentioned as sources of revenue.

Some of the expense would be due in 2015 and could be added to next year’s county government budget, officials said.

“I think we have an urgency to do this. It’s how are we going to pay for it?” Grady said.

The entire eight-member commission must vote on the new site. Six commissioners attended the Wednesday committee meeting.

Said Mays, “I personally would not vote for where we are.”

 “I wouldn’t, either” Grady said.

Mays made the motion to present the Judicial Center property to the full commission as the 911 center site.

“Its not going to be necessary to raise taxes to build the 911 center,” Grady said after the meeting. “We have resources available.”

Proposed renovations at the Elijah Hill Building and the Hancock Center will “go on the back burner” for a minimum of one year, the county manager said.



Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.

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