A new home: Cleburne County partners with Jacksonville State for new EMA facility
by Mike Faulk
Staff Writer
Jun 19, 2009 | 1996 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Melinda Gonzalez works at the dispatch center of the Cleburne County Emergency Management Agency. The EMA announced last week it will partner with Jacksonville State University to build a new facility. Photo: Trent Penny/The Anniston Star
Melinda Gonzalez works at the dispatch center of the Cleburne County Emergency Management Agency. The EMA announced last week it will partner with Jacksonville State University to build a new facility. Photo: Trent Penny/The Anniston Star
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Cleburne County is getting a new building for its Emergency Management Agency and 911 services, and it will feature classrooms and house other county administrative offices, county officials announced last week.

The building, which would span roughly 12,000 square feet, will cost about $2.5 million to build, said Steve Swafford, Cleburne County executive officer.

Swafford said only some local money will go into the building, while the rest is coming from state and federal grants awarded to the county and Jacksonville State University's Environmental Policy and Information Center. Swafford said "green" technology will be used in the building's construction and operation to make it environmentally friendly, but the specifics are still being worked out.

"We're trying to implement as many energy efficient practices as we can," he said.

The old building housing county EMA officials is not structurally sound for severe weather, and the new building will provide a much-needed upgrade, Swafford said.

JSU, he said, will use the classrooms, but the kinds of classes that will be taught there are yet to be decided.

Pete Conroy, director of JSU's Environmental Policy and Information Center, said the classes will initially be used for informal education, similar to programs at the JSU Little River Canyon Center. Conroy said the building will also give more exposure to the university and the natural attractions in the area by being relatively close to Interstate 20.

"Our goal is to leverage as much as we can with as little as possible," Conroy said.

Southwire, a wire and cable product company that owns the Forte Power Systems plant in Cleburne County, donated 22 acres for the building site, plant manager Jim Perdue said.

"We're very much in tune with the communities we operate within," Perdue said. "A lot of the resources we pour into the community we do put into local education."

Cleburne County Probate Judge Ryan Robertson said the county will use the building as an administrative, educational and promotional tool. He said the lobby will feature exhibits drawing attention to the county's outdoor attractions such as the Chief Ladiga and Pinhoti trails.

"It's a good situation for our county," he said.

The building will be on Southwire Drive, off U.S. 78 just northeast of Heflin, according to a press release.

Swafford said the county will take bids in late summer or early fall, and once a contractor is hired, the building should take 12 to 18 months for completion.
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