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Buildings lend boost to Mecklenburg County 911 system

SoVaNow.com / February 13, 2013
Mecklenburg County 911 will get two new buildings to house communications equipment — one at the 911 center in Boydton, the other at the broadcast tower in Baskerville. The cost to purchase and equip the new facilities is $36,033. There will be additional charges for electric hook-up, installing new cabinets, and moving the radio equipment.

Jon Taylor, newly hired Emergency Management Coordinator, and Linda Cage, director of the Mecklenburg County Emergency Operations Center, on Monday asked the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors to purchase the new buildings to replace the dilapidated facilities that currently house 911.

The radio equipment that serves as the backbone for the county’s fire, police and EMS communications hub is kept in wood frame buildings sheathed in aluminum siding. These buildings have no insulation and often leak during rain or snowstorms.

Taylor called them “less than adequate” for the service, which handles over 63,000 calls a year – fire, rescue, law enforcement, and other emergency calls.

“All of the radio equipment used by the 911 system is housed in these buildings. If they go down, the Sheriff’s office or the fire departments are without emergency phone service,” Taylor said.

The new buildings, one 10 x 20 feet and the other 12 x 28 feet, are concrete structures that will be anchored to concrete pads. They will be grounded against the elements. Heating and air conditioning will be extended to the units, and new, sturdier shelves will hold the radio equipment.

Taylor said he expects to have the buildings installed and operational by mid-March. Once equipment is transferred to the new facilities, the old buildings will be removed and the fence surrounding the building will be “shored up.”

Supervisor Dan Tanner asked Taylor to obtain a price to replace the current fence. He would prefer a fence that gives officers a sight line to the doors of these buildings —something that the current fence prevents. Supervisor Andy Hargrove asked Taylor to also obtain prices for installing security lights around the buildings.

In other business during their monthly meeting on Monday, supervisors were asked to consider replacing the boiler unit that furnishes heat to the Boydton Library. The current system, which is over 30 years old, has stopped working.

As a stop-gap measure, Aubrey Russell, supervisor for Buildings and Grounds, installed a small fuel tank at the building. This will provide heat to the building for the winter, but is only a temporary solution.

Russell told supervisors who serve on the Property Committee that the existing HVAC system is old and both the boiler and chiller need replacing. The cost would be $7,000, and it may necessitate closing the library for two weeks or more while the work is completed.

As an alternative, Russell suggested replacing the boiler with a gas-fired unit. Installation of such a unit, as well as the removal of an existing underground fuel tank used by the old system, would be done by the county at a significant cost savings, he said.

For now, supervisors agreed to defer the issue until they receive more information from Russell, including pricing of alternative solutions.

Mecklenburg County has agreed to sell a .28 parcel of land in South Hill to Williams Gas Pipeline (Transco). The site currently houses dumpsters. However, since the county is building a new convenience center on Highway 58, it no longer needs the property. Transco has agreed to pay $1,950 for the land, which is adjacent to its current plant on Chaptico Road.

Supervisors also approved a supplemental appropriation of $3.2 million for water infrastructure improvements for Microsoft’s Boydton plant.

The money for the improvements comes from several sources: $900,000 was recently awarded to Mecklenburg County by the Tobacco Commission for “XYZ Corporation,” $2.2 million comes from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund and the Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund, and the remaining $100,000 consists of Mecklenburg County economic development funds.

In late January, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced that Microsoft would invest $348 million to expand its modular data center site near Boydton. The company will build two additional facilities at the data center campus to increase capacity to serve its customer base. The project will create 30 new jobs.

Also, Robin Jones reported that she had completed her audit of Mecklenburg County’s books for 2012 and she “found no problems with compliance or internal controls.” She also described the county’s financial position as “strong,” showing cash assets of $23 million, total net assets of $54 million and only $10 million in debt.

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