Construction underway on Randolph 911 center

Submitted photo Construction has begun this week on the Emerson-Phares building on the grounds of the Elkins-Randolph County Airport. The facility is the proposed location of the Randolph County 911 Center and Office of Emergency Management.

ELKINS — Construction is underway on a $3.8 million project that will bring a larger and upgraded emergency 911 center to Randolph County.

The construction, which began Monday, will upgrade the Emerson-Phares building on the grounds of the Elkins-Randolph County Airport.

The facility is proposed to be the future location of the Randolph County 911 Center and Office of Emergency Management.

Randolph County Commission President Mike Taylor said the idea for the new facility came after the offices working out of the current Wees Annex facility overcrowded the building as well as the possibility of the state deciding to regionalize 911 centers.

“Our 911 center, as it is currently built, is very overcrowded, and emergency services has expanded,” Taylor said. “In that building, it has the office of emergency management, the flood plain management, and mapping and addressing in addition to the 911 center.

“What we found ourselves with is with the electronic gear, the layout and so forth, we just simply didn’t have enough room,” he continued. “In the new facility, we will have approximately 11,000 square feet that we can adequately house all the emergency service agencies, and in the event of a natural or man-made disaster, we will have the adequate facilities in place to address the needs of the citizens of Randolph County.”

Citizens Bank of West Virginia is loaning funds, not to exceed $3.8 million dollars on the project, which will be paid back over 30 years. The winning bid for the project was slightly over $3 million from Lombardi Development Co. of Follansbee.

In addition to Lombardi Development Co.’s winning bid of $3,050,000, five other bids were received in the amounts of $3,646,420 from Flint Construction of Gassaway; $3,247,000 from City Construction Co. of Clarksburg; $3,728,000 from Huffman Corp. of Clarksburg; $3,088,000 from Paramount Builders of St. Albans; and $3,197,000 from Dan Hill Construction Co. of Gauley Bridge.

During a March 8 special meeting, commissioners also signed documents including leases, sub-leases and assurances for the facility.

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

On Jan. 4, 2016, the county commission received an initial report from Silling Architects, of Morgantown, regarding a study it performed on the building.

During the Jan. 4, 2016 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 also will 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.

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 to 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.