Whether they were saving the best or the worst for last, Rogers County Commissioners culminated their lengthy meeting this week with the approval of an alternate location for the county’s new E911 Center.
Following a day-long session intercut with no less than five executive sessions and a lunch break, Commissioners Monday approved the selection of property at the Jim Summerlin Industrial Park in Inola as the new site for the E911 Center project.
“In my opinion, there were already issues with the (Claremore) location (for the E911 Center) which were slowing us down, so much so, that we might not have finished this project in the time we’ve got our construction company, Flintco, under contract,” said District 3 Commissioner Kirt Thacker. “I’ve been in communications with representatives from Inola and RCIDA, and it was agreed that the (Summerlin) Industrial Park property could be donated to us for the new E911 Center at no cost — I’d consider that to be a major boon to this project, and as such, I motion for us to move our new E911 Center project to the alternate location in Inola.”
Inola is in Thacker's district.
Thacker’s motion was seconded by District 2 Commissioner Mike Helm and passed in a 2-1 vote, with Commissioner Dan DeLozier opposing the relocation.
The RCIDA-owned Summerlin Industrial Park occupies 43 acres and is located along Highway 88 and property near the Inola Elementary School, in reasonable proximity to Highway 412 and Johnston’s Port 33, a privately owned port which ships cargo on the McClellan-Kerr Navigational System.
The site previously selected for the project, four acres at the corner of Highway 88 and Lowry Road in Claremore, had been contracted for purchase from (property owner) John Williams at a cost of $50,000.
Additional costs arose due to the need replace the site’s insufficient waterlines. Costs which Thacker felt could be spared at the new site in Inola.
“The Summerlin location is ideal. It’s within the county, is zoned properly and has already been surveyed. It meets our waterline needs and is being donated to the county at no cost,” Thacker said. “Additionally, the mayor (of Inola) has given us some (financial) incentives to move our (E911) project there. They’ve stated to me that they’ll do ‘whatever it takes’ for us to build the facility in Inola, and I feel that this is a ‘win’ for us.”
Incentives and cost-savings aside, DeLozier disagreed, feeling commissioners should stay with their first choice.
“I simply feel that the E911 Center should be centrally located in the county and as Claremore is the county seat and we plan to have a back-up (emergency response) call center in Emergency Management (to be located in the courthouse), it makes more sense to me to have the facility in the city limits of Claremore,” DeLozier said. “I have absolutely nothing against Inola or the Summerlin Industrial Park, but there’s a lot to be said for having a centrally-located emergency response site and that’s what we had secured.”
DeLozier also noted the formerly Claremore-based project was to have been a regional (county-wide) dispatch center. Something he hopes won’t be affected by his fellow commissioners opting to move the project to Inola.
As a contract existed between Williams and the county regarding the Highway 88/Lowry Road property, Helms made a motion to purchase the property for his district.
Commissioner Thacker then seconded Helm’s motion and it passed in a 2-1 vote, with DeLozier opposing the purchase, maintaining that he felt the best use of the location would be for the new E911 Center.
Once finished, the $1.5 million E911 facility will combine most of the county’s emergency dispatching in a “bunker-like” building, capable of withstanding an F5 tornado. With advanced technology making it ever-easier to pinpoint emergency calls — earning the new facility the distinction of being an “enhanced” 911 call and dispatch center. Emergency responders are hopeful it will improve response time.
“The bottom line is that this project had kind of stalled, but it’s moving forward again,” Thacker said. “The people voted on this and they’re going to get it.”