The lingering question of where to locate the Cass County 9-1-1 Center is one step closer to being determined. During Monday evening’s meeting of the Cass County Public Safety Commission, Commissioner Gaylord Schelling, who also sits on the Board of Supervisors, made an announcement with regard to the Cambridge Law Firm building at 707 Poplar Street. Schelling said “We have a contract.” He said also if everything goes well, the building could be acquired before the end of the year. Commissioner Steve Livengood said “For tax purposes I think we ought to get it done before the end of the year.”
Cass Co. Public Safety Commissioners meeting 11/25/13. Ric Hanson photo
Last month the Public Safety Commission passed a motion requesting a quote from the Cambridge Law Firm, with regard to the purchase price of the building. Information was then presented before the Board of Supervisors who gave their blessing to proceed with negotiations. Schelling did not disclose what the purchase price would be during Monday night’s meeting, because there are still some matters being worked out.
Now that the County has agreed to purchase the building, it remains to be seen whether the lower level of the Cambridge building will be used for a new 9-1-1 Center, or the offices of the County Assessor and Engineer. Moving those offices to the building across the street from the courthouse, would likely open-up enough space for an expansion of the current Comm Center on the lower level of the courthouse.
Last month, E-911 Director Rob Koppert said it would cost more money to reconstruct the lower level of the courthouse – once the Assessor and Engineer’s offices are moved – than it would to make the Cambridge Building fit the needs of the 911 Center. Last night however, Koppert said while cost is still an issue, location wasn’t. He said “Quite frankly I don’t really care where the Comm Center is. If it’s cheaper to… keep over her [it in the courthouse], so be it. If it’s cheaper over there, so be it.”
Next week Al Povandra, with the Carlson, West and Povondra Architectural firm in Omaha, will be in Atlantic to re-assess the lower level courthouse space, with the idea the Assessor and Engineer’s offices would be moved out. He should then be able to come up with an estimate on how much it would cost to renovate those areas, and if it’s even wise to do so. In his report to the Board of Supervisors this past April, Al Povandra said any changes to the courthouse would cost “Big Bucks,” and it’s something that is not easily done. Discussions on how to handle the space needs of the Cass County 911 Center, along with new equipment necessary for Next Generation 911 (NG-911) services, has been ongoing for more than two-years.
The Iowa 911 Program Manager said at a recent meeting that all public safety answering points must have in-place a fully compliant NG-911 system by Dec. 31st, 2015. At Monday’s Public Safety Commission meeting, Rob Koppert said a location would have to be secured by July 1st, 2014 in order to properly build or equip a new communications center, which would take one-year to install and make operational NG-911 system equipment, which still needs to be ordered.
The Commission agreed to participate in a State of Iowa 911 grant program which requires a 50-percent match in order to obtain a maximum $50,000 grant to help with operational or project costs . If the grant application is approved, the funds will likely come from the wireless- or wireline-surcharges, and other areas.