Emergency operations center work continues


April 5, 2010 at 7:04 p.m.
Updated April 5, 2010 at 11:06 p.m.

A committee was appointed Monday to recommend an architect to oversee renovation of a building that could become of the heart of recovery during an disaster in Victoria County.

The commissioners court appointed the six-committee members and one ad-hoc committee member who will review proposals from architects proposing to prepare the county's new emergency management center.

The court also received proposals from four companies interested in supervising the renovation.

"We're looking at more space, updated equipment and everything we can do to provide for the safety of the residents here," County Judge Don Pozzi said. "This would only enhance our capability for continuing to provide that service and if we're going to do it, we want to do it correctly."

The committee members are Jeb Lacey, director of emergency management; Richard McBrayer, deputy director of emergency management; Ronald Pray, the county fire marshal; Terry Simons, the sheriff's office chief deputy; Victoria Fire Chief Vance Riley and Roy Boyd, Victoria's deputy police chief.

The ad-hoc, non-voting member would be County Commissioner Kevin Janak.

The city and county are working to create a state-of-the-art emergency operations center capable of withstanding 170 mph winds that could be ready in less than two years.

The joint city-county facility will be in what is now the basement of the courthouse annex at 205 N. Bridge St.

The city and county have been using space in the city-owned 700 Main Center for the emergency operations center. But it has become cramped and there are questions whether it could withstand a Category 3 hurricane, which has winds greater than 110 mph.

Joyce Dean, the county's director of administrative services, has said it will cost about $1.5 million to renovate and equip the new center.

She said the county has received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and has applied for a $455,000 Coastal Impact Assistant Program grant to fund the center.

Dean said because the city and county won't have to construct a new building, all of the money can be used for preparing and equipping the emergency center.

The basement has 14,000 square feet, which compares to the 987 square feet in the current emergency center. The existing emergency center is less than 100 yards from an active rail line that carries hazardous materials daily.

It's also near trucks hauling hazardous materials on U.S. Highway 87, U.S. Highway 77 Business and U.S. Highway 59 Business.

The new center would be on an underground electrical grid, and it would have a generator for backup power.



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