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December 18, 2013

Commissioners buy land for LEOC

NEW CASTLE — The Lawrence County commissioners approved purchase of 42 acres for a new county 911 center.

The vote Tuesday was 2-0 with Dan Vogler and Robert Del Signore voting for the $200,000 purchase. Commissioner Steve Craig was absent.

The county will buy the Hickory Township land from Frank R. and Kimberly Augustine and Michael H., Janet, Michael A. and Kathlene Linz. They hope to finalize the contract by Dec. 30.

Brian Melcer, Lawrence County director of public safety, said the property was chosen after a review of more than 20 vacant sites in the county that were available and met the acreage and elevation requirements for the center’s tower.

He said the size of the property will allow for security as well as keeping a safe distance from other buildings. There also is room for future expansion and establishment of a public safety training center, Melcer said.

The county also hopes to move emergency vehicles, which are in leased space in various county sites, to the new property. Vogler said this would exclude some vehicles, which need to be positioned around the county for quick access.

“This site rose to the top,” Melcer said.

Despite its size, its price was lower than some smaller properties, he added. It also has readily available connections for public water and sewer on lines already built for neighboring Nordson XALOY, as well as being relatively flat, free of wetlands and central to the county. There were also no zoning issues, he pointed out.

The building will be constructed to higher standards than a conventional structure, Melcer said, so it can withstand weather and other emergencies. Interviews are beginning with potential architects for the project, he noted.

The property is located on the north side of County Line Road, about a half-mile from Cascade Street. It is close to boundaries with the city of New Castle and Shenango Township. The commissioners said the road is not state-maintained and they will have to talk with the township about maintenance.

Melcer anticipates the planned $5 million Lawrence Emergency Operations Center will be ready in late summer or fall 2015. The county currently leases a portion of the Scottish Rite Cathedral for $3,160 per month for the 911 Center.

Concurrently with construction of the building, Melcer said Tuesday, the county will be converting to a new radio system. He told the commissioners he hopes to have requests for proposals for the system posted on the website next week and sent out by the end of the year.

(Email: grzebieniak@ncnewsonline.com)

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