Dirt work under way for EOC facility

August 17, 2013

The dirt has started to fly at the future site of Hood County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

Preliminary work began last week on Larry Miller Drive in Granbury, across the street from the Law Enforcement Center, which houses the current EOC hub as well as the Sheriff’s Office and the county jail.

The new EOC will give officials room to work.

“We’re kind of sitting on top of each other now – not any room,” County Judge Darrell Cockerham said.

The EOC plays a vital role in allowing officials to communicate with and coordinate multiple agencies involved in disasters such as the May 15 tornado. The EOC control room will be about double its current size.

The building will also be the new home for Sheriff Roger Deeds and his administrative staff. The IT (Information Technology) Department will be moving there as well.

Also, Emergency Management Coordinator Ray Wilson, who is also the county fire marshal, will move his office there from its current location on West Bridge Street across from City Hall.

“All three will be in the same building, to work together during emergency situations,” Wilson said.

Approved grant money had to be used by a specific date, and Cockerham explained that it was a “use it or lose it” situation.

“It’s a little over $700,000,” Cockerham said, adding, that’s something “you can’t pass up.

“There are going to be a lot of upgrades on equipment. It’s probably about a $3 million (project), all together.”

Cockerham said the actual grant amount is $712,000, and the county will pick up the rest of the tab – less than $2.3 million.

DEADLINE

“Our goal is to be in the building by February,” Wilson said. “Because of the grant we’re operating under, we have to have it occupied by the end of February. I’m glad to see all of it get going, so we can get a better facility to protect the citizens.”

The IT Department has been dealing with subpar conditions for too long, according to the judge.

“IT is in the old jail now, and it’s highly inadequate,” Cockerham said. “Their offices are old jail cells. The building leaks. We’ve got to get them out of there. Plus, IT needs to be in (the EOC) because they support all of the infrastructure for emergency management.”

Another necessary expense will be to install generators in case of a lengthy power outage, Cockerham noted.

“This (building) will be completely stand-alone,” Cockerham said. “If the power goes out, we will have generator backups.”

ANIMAL CONTROL HOME

The county is starting to put together the bid package for construction of the county’s future home for Animal Control, Cockerham noted.

“That’s following right along behind,” Cockerham, referring back to the new EOC’s progress.

Cockerham said the Animal Control facility site will be on Weatherford Highway, next to the county’s brush collection station.

“Our goal is to keep (the animals) healthier, and not have to euthanize as many,” he said, noting that the new facility will include a quarantine area to help prevent spread of disease from new animals brought in off the street.

The current Animal Control facility, at 240 Bray Street just west of Granbury, is too small, and there is no room for expansion, officials have said.

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