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January 22, 2014

Architect chosen for new 911 center

NEW CASTLE — Eckles Architecture and Engineering will be the primary designers for a new Lawrence County Emergency Operations and 911 center.

The venture is expected to cost between $4 million and $5 million.

In granting a preliminary contract, the Lawrence County commissioners said the design firm will be paid  7.5 percent of the total construction cost for the project, which will include a new countywide emergency radio system overhaul.

The commissioners are expected to approve the final contract with Eckles for the work at their regular meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Commissioner Bob DelSignore said the county will borrow the full amount through a bond issue.

County public safety director Brian Melcer said he anticipates the design will be completed and ground broken later this year, with completion in the fall of 2015.

The commissioners last month agreed to spend $200,000 to purchase 42 acres on Countyline Road in Hickory Township for the new building.

The 911 dispatch and emergency operations center currently is housed in the Scottish Rite Cathedral, where the county pays $3,160 per month in rent.

Melcer explained yesterday that Eckles was chosen from among three finalists for the work.

“We needed someone experienced in designing a facility like this,” he said. The facility will have the strength to withstand severe weather and include unique technology requirements.

“We also wanted somebody local,” he added.

Eckles teamed up with Architects Design Group Inc., a Winter Park, Fla., consulting company. He said this is a premier architecture group with extensive national experience in building public safety buildings and complexes.

Melcer explained that Eckles’ fee does not include technology or furnishings. He said the company will work with Mission Critical Partners, consultants consulting with the county for locating and other aspects of a radio communications tower to be built on the site.

The commissioners in October had agreed to extend a contract with Mission Critical Partners of Wexford and State College as consultants to continue with the project phases.

Melcer said the county initially received six proposals from architects for design and engineering, and those were narrowed to three and ultimately, to one, with Eckles as the choice.

He said Eckles will subcontract with Architects Design Groups.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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