County passes bond issuance for new center

The Inter-Mountain photo by Tim MacVean Thomas Aman, bond counsel with Steptoe and Johnson of Clarksburg, reads an ordinance regarding the issuance of bonds for the construction, renovation, improvements and equipping of the proposed Randolph County 911 Center at the Emerson Phares Building.

ELKINS — The Randolph County Commission unanimously approved a motion Tuesday to enact an ordinance regarding new construction at the Emerson Phares Building on the campus of the Elkins-Randolph County Airport.

The ordinance is in regard to the issuance of bonds for the construction, renovation, improvements and equipping of the proposed Randolph County 911 Center at the Emerson Phares Building.

The facility is the proposed future location of the 911 Center and Office of Emergency Management.

The passing of the ordinance came following a second reading and a public hearing, which no one from the public attended, during Tuesday’s special Randolph County Commission meeting.

“With the passing of the bond ordinance by both the building commission and the county commission, it is another step in the process that we can move forward to obtain the financing to do the renovations to the Emerson Phares Building,” Randolph County Commission President Mike Taylor said.

“The one key point that I want to stress — one of the most important factors — is looking at what the bids come in at, if it’s something that’s manageable, something we can afford and stay within our budget on,” he continued. “That’s going to be a very critical part of the decision-making process. It’s not finalized yet. Bids will be open Dec. 7. Bids will be open, then they will be reviewed by the architect and a decision will be made.”

Taylor added that if they are able to get a bid they feel comfortable with, they will be prepared to move forward on the project.

“We have an amount in mind that we feel we can afford without putting a strain on the budget,” he said. “If everything falls into place (with the bids), we can move forward.”

Originally, the city and county turned over the deed to the building to the Airport Authority. Now, the county is leasing the building from them for $10 per year, but paying them an annual $37,500 maintenance fee for snow removal and general upkeep of the property.

“It made it possible to move to the bid step, and we have all the bonding. We’ve had three readings by the building commission, we’ve had two readings by the county commission and we had the public hearing (Tuesday),” Taylor said. “So, all the pieces are into place that if the bids come in at what we feel is a reasonable amount we can take the next step. If they don’t, we say ‘Stop.'”

In addition to Taylor and Commissioner Chris See at Tuesday’s meeting, Thomas Aman, bond counsel with Steptoe and Johnson of Clarksburg, and Rob Steptoe, bond financial advisor with Crews and Associates of Morgantown, were in attendance.

During a Nov. 2 meeting, the commission unanimously passed the first reading of the ordinance.

On Jan. 4, the County Commission received an initial report from Silling Architects, of Morgantown, regarding a study they performed on the building.

During the Jan. 4 meeting, Silling Director of Business Development Mike Moore and architect Jeremy Jones led the presentation, describing the potential renovation necessary to meet building, life safety and accessibility codes while fulfilling operational needs of the agency.

“This building, on the surface, appeared to be a great fit,” Moore said.

The exterior of the building would require tree stump, gravel, signage, curb cuts and dumpster removal, according to the study. New work would include installing impact resistant gates with card access entry, video intercom for visitor entry and an induction loop for vehicular exit, all to promote security.

“To start with, it’s a very good start — isolated — with the majority of the perimeter fenced,” Jones said. “With the exception of keeping the public out of the main parking area with controlled gate entry, it’s really minimal demolition.”

The roof of the facility will also need to be replaced because it has “exceeded its useful life” and does not meet current energy code. They note in the study that much of the rooftop equipment is obsolete and unnecessary for the operations of a modern facility.

“It’s an existing ballasted roof on rubber and we recognize that it’s past its useful life, so we take the ballast up and remove the roofing,” Jones said. “There is three inches of rigid insulation presently on the roof.

“To meet energy code compliance we would just add an additional inch,” he continued. “The existing structure is sloped, which helps us for the water drainage to the roof drains, which appear to be in great condition, so we would replace the roof drain caps and add an addition tapered insulation on top of the one-inch just for water drainage purposes. So it’s not an extreme expense.”

The interior of the building would likely require all new hardware to become compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a new air handling system and a “total re-do” of the fire alarm system.

Additional recommended upgrades include 17-20 exterior and interior surveillance cameras, bullet resistance call center doors and 20 doors requiring card access.

The 11,876 square-foot facility was designed by architect J.D. King in 1987.