posted Dec 11, 2014, 8:12 AM by Brian Melcer   [ updated Dec 11, 2014, 8:15 AM ]
Officials break ground on new public safety building
Pictured, from left, County Administrator Jim Gagliano, Hickory Township Supervisors Kathy Abranovich and Jon Sweet, County Treasurer Richard Rapone, Register and Recorder Jan Kalajainen, Commissioner Steve Craig,
Public Safety Director Brian Melcer, Commissioners Dan Vogler and Robert Del Signore, Sr., Judges Dominic Motto and J. Craig Cox, and Hickory Township Supervisor William Dean
Photo Courtesy of Justin Aller, Aller Photography
December 8, 2014 - New Castle

A group of county and local elected officials, public safety employees, first responders, contractors and other dignitaries officially started a new era in public safety in Lawrence County on Monday by officially breaking ground on the County's new state of the art public safety facility.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held at the 42 acre site of the new facility, located on County Line Rd in Hickory Township.  Lawrence County Director of Public Safety, Brian Melcer, welcomed the officials to the site and provided a history of the project, which is being financed through a bond issued by the Lawrence County Commissioners.  The facility is anticipated to be completed in early 2016, in conjunction with a countywide digital radio system upgrade which is also being financed out of the same bond issue.

Melcer started off the ceremony by stressing the importance of this fully redundant and technologically advanced facility for the safety of the community.  The project has been in the planning stages for over 10 years.  The Department of Public Safety's 9-1-1 center has been housed in the Cathedral Building in New Castle since the formation of the Lawrence Emergency Operations Center in 1982.  While the Cathedral has served the department well, the County eventually outgrew the space and had the need for more modern and secure facilities.  Melcer recognized the various public safety officials who in the past had advanced the communications and emergency response systems to where they were now, and added that without their contributions this project would have not been possible.

On behalf of the Board of Commissioners, which is comprised of Chair Dan Vogler, Steve Craig and Robert Del Signore, Sr., Commissioner Vogler emphasized that the Department of Public Safety is one of the only County departments that "potentially could impact every life in Lawrence County, from a newborn infant to an elderly person".  He affirmed that the current board of Commissioners takes that responsibility very seriously, and this was why they felt that the public safety capital upgrade projects in communications and facilities were a very important endeavor for the Commissioners to undertake.    He acknowledged all of the County and local officials present, as well as the first responders and contractors, for their role in seeing this project to reality.

The facility will feature a 10,475 sq. ft. 911 and emergency operations center and administrative suite, as well as an 8,281 sq. ft. garage to house the County's various response assets and equipment.  The 9-1-1 center itself will have 7 positions and be fully redundant to provide communications in all circumstances.  The Emergency Operations Center will have a capacity of 25 persons.  The entire complex will have the capability of "surviving off the grid" for a minimum of 72 hours.  Since the County was able to locate a 42 acre site, Melcer added that there are future plans to construct first responder training facilities such as fire training props, a shooting range, and a wet pond for water supply.

The project is being completed by a diverse and experienced team of contractors and consultants.  Eckles Architecture, of New Castle, PA, in consultation with the Architects Design Group of Winter Park, FL, designed the facility.  The County has been working with Mission Critical Partners, of State College, PA, for technological consulting on both the facility and radio projects.  Frank B. Taylor Engineering, of New Castle, PA  is serving as the civil engineer and Cornerstone Construction Management, of New Castle, PA is serving as the construction manager.  The facility will be constructed by Rien Construction, of Brookfield, OH, as the General Contractor.  Other key contracts are being completed by McCurley-Houston Electric of New Castle, PA, for electrical, Guys Mechanical Systems, of Rochester, PA as the HVAC contractor, Rabe Environmental Systems of Erie, PA as plumbing and fire protection contractor and JG Contracting, of Carnegie, PA will be constructing the radio tower on site.

The $6.48 million project is anticipated to be completed in early 2016 with a cutover date to follow that shortly.

Architect's rendering of new facility