Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Ground breaks on EOC

Source: Hernando Today

Shovels dug into earth Monday, as ground was broken for the county's new $4.3 million Emergency Communications and Operations Center.

It will be the largest public works project in Hernando County, officials said.

When the center is completed in about a year, it will be 19,500 square feet, two stories high and will house both emergency operations and the Emergency-911 center.

Yesterday's groundbreaking ceremony was held 10 a.m. in front of the main office of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office off Cortez Boulevard, the site where the new emergency building will be built.

All five county commissioners made remarks at the ceremony, along with County Administrator Gary Adams and Sheriff Richard Nugent.

The developers and designers of the new building were also on hand for the event.
Rick Lentz, vice president for Cutler Associates, said construction for the building is slated to begin in mid-July.

"Giving or taking a week," he said.

Cutler Associates is handling the construction of the building. Winter Haven-based Architects Design Group, designed the building.

Cutler Associates is familiar with Hernando County. Besides getting the contract to build the new emergency center, the firm is also building the two new libraries in the county. They also recently built the new fire station on Lake Lindsey Road as well as the new Department of Public Works building in Brooksville.

As remarks were made by officials Monday, several pointed towards last year's round of storms as a reason for having the new building, which will be able to withstand Category 4 hurricane winds.

The sheriff's office is where the Emergency-911 center is located. During crisis situations, the Emergency Operations Center also operates out of the sheriff's office.

The current sheriff's headquarters cannot withstand winds more than 80 to 90 miles per hour, or a Category 2 hurricane.

Nugent told the crowd that last year he stood outside the sheriff's office as the storms were rolling towards Hernando County.

"We were standing in front of this building asking what we were going to do," he said. "We don't want to go through another hurricane without a building, except for the season we're facing."

County Commissioner Nancy Robinson also told those on hand the building was needed.
"If we get through this (hurricane season) fine," she said. "But we'll be better prepared for the future."

County Administrator Adams also echoed Nugent's sentiments about the current building and reiterated the sentiments about what the current building could withstand.

"When the winds get up to 70 to 75 mph hour, we don't know what's going to happen," he said.

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