(08/02/2002)
The creation of a new Calhoun County emergency services center moved forward last night with the Calhoun Commission selecting a site. The building would house the counties 911, emergency medical services and the Office of Emergency Services, and possibly other services.

The current building at Mt. Zion is in disrepair, unable to meet fire codes and inadequate for installation of new equipment.

The Commission voted unanimously to move ahead with a friendly condemnation suit of the Hamilton property on High Street in Grantsville. The nearly two acre flat lot is owned by the Knott's Memorial United Methodist Church, whose official board and membership has agreed to sell the premium lot to the Commission for $10,000, although it is worth several times that amount.

Because the property has some covenants in the deed, the church has agreed to the friendly condemnation suit. Pastor Mary Zimmer said "Our congregation wants to help this community and this is something we can do."

President McCallister said he would have preferred to have all the money in place before a site was obtained.

Commissioner David Barr said he believes the site decision will move the project ahead more rapidly. "The next thing is to get an architect to develop some drawings," he said.

Commissioners McCallister and Barr visited Jackson County's emergency center this week. "We learned some important things about space," said McCallister.

The Commission instructed Clerk Richard Kirby to write a letter to Gov. Bob Wise, asking support for the project.

Delegate Bill Stemple has announced he has about $90,000 dedicated to the project. Stemple, Director of Calhoun's OES, indicated he preferred the Gary Dye Garage, a 40 year old building on Phillip's Run, for the center. "But the Commission has the final decision," he said.

The garage listed by Calhoun Realty was offered at $100,000, but Commissioner Barr said he felt it would need major repair and a new sewage system before it could become operational. Stemple said the Dye property would cost at least $175,000 (total) to become operational.

Barr said he is confident funds can eventually be obtained for a state-of-the-art center that will adequately serve the county through this century.

Some of the new centers have cost over $300,000.

Commissioner Weaver said he supported the Hamilton site selection because it is a winning situation for the county. "The cost benefits of the Hamilton site, flat land, sewage and readily available hook-ups, and the gracious offer of the congregation at Knott's Memorial, have made the site rise to the top," he said.

The Grantsville location equalizes the distances for ambulance service to the northern part of the county. All three Commissioners agreed the need to maintain ambulance service at Minnora, as part of the equalization.

Mount Zion resident Mark Shock, whose property is located next to the current center, made an offer to sell two acres of land for $30,000, plus be given the current center, which he said he wanted to tear down.

President McCallister has been calling for input for the decision for several months.


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