County communication center receives grant to relocate

Published 1:44 pm Wednesday, December 8, 2021

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Funding approved to move county’s 911 center to former jail

COLUMBUS—The Polk County Board of Commissioners approved accepting a state grant to relocate its 911 communication center. 

Commissioners met Monday and heard from communications director Jeremy Gregg. Gregg discussed the grant and current conditions of the department. 

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He said the 911 center is for all emergency services in the county and some departments after hours. The staff is at minimum 2 employees and peak times are 3, with Gregg saying because of space issues the center cannot have more than that. 

The current communication center is located in the basement of the old bank building that currently houses the county tourism department upstairs. 

Gregg said the building was renovated in 2008 and the department is in dire need of more space to meet its critical needs and to grow. 

The current space has plumbing issues, Gregg said, and there is only one way in and one way out of the building. There are also no sprinklers in the building and no handicap access. 

The county kept the former jail in order to move communications into that building. The grant to move communications into the old jail is an estimated $2.4 million. Commissioners also approved $1,939,730 out of 911 funding so no local taxpayer dollars will be used for the renovation. 

Gregg said the county can work out of its backup center while construction is going on. 

“It’s a need we’ve had for a long time,” said Polk County Manager Marche Pittman. 

He said the county never would have imagined construction quotes of $700 a square foot but that is what the market is currently. He said he is hoping the market will correct itself.