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County to move 911 center to business park

April 03, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Franklin County Board of Commissioners and the Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority agreed to a 20-year extension on a lease for a building in the Cumberland Valley Business Park that likely will become the county's new emergency communications center.

"We have clearly outgrown the basement of the courthouse," Commissioner Bob Thomas said. "The building has to be somewhat retrofitted for a 911 center," he said of the warehouse.

The county is in the third year of a five-year lease on Building 426, which it has used primarily for storage, including the county's voting machines, said John Van Horn, the authority's executive director. The lease for the 18,900-square-foot building is $56,700 a year, he said.

The new agreement, a series of four five-year extensions, calls for the county to pay the authority $12,000 a year, Van Horn said. The difference is that the county will be responsible for all maintenance and utilities, he said.

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"They're putting a million dollar investment into the building. The county is making a long-term commitment and taking a maintenance burden off of LIDA," Van Horn said of the lower annual payment.

Two years ago, the county borrowed $39 million in a bond issue, $30 million of which was for a new prison. The balance of the bond issue included $5 million for farmland preservation and $4 million to upgrade the county's aging public safety radio system.

Van Horn said the lease had to be extended to the length of the bond issue in order for that money to be used for the project. County Administrator John Hart told the LIDA board that the county plans to have the new radio system up and running in 2008, he said.

County Director of Emergency Services Jerry Flasher said the county plans to have the new system installed by the first quarter of 2008, but that the older system will continue to operate until all police, fire, ambulance and municipal radios are compatible with the new system.

"The system is basically wearing out like a used automobile," Flasher said. More space will be needed for the new radio consoles and other improvements, such as new 911 communications equipment and a geographic information system to allow dispatchers to pinpoint the source of cellular 911 calls.

While the equipment has aged, the staff has grown, Flasher said. The Department of Emergency Services has 10 people in administrative and supervisory positions and about 40 dispatchers, he said, noting that four to six dispatchers are usually on duty during a shift.

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