Work underway on new regional 911 center
Work is scheduled to continue for another year on the old Montgomery County courthouse as crews refurbish the space into a public safety building that will house the sheriff’s office and a regional 911 dispatch center.
Construction on the 50,000-square-foot building began in May, seven months after court officials moved into the county’s new $20 million courthouse, located nearby on Christiansburg’s East Main Street.
The old courthouse’s facade is being redone in brick and metal, with large areas of glass, and is expected to be completed in late summer of 2014, according to county spokeswoman Ruth Richey. The current exterior of the building, which opened as the county’s courthouse in 1979, is “unstable and needed to be removed for safety and stability,” Richey said.
The sheriff’s office, which is currently located next door, will move into the public safety building after its completion. The 911 center is scheduled to open in late 2014 for equipment installation and training initiatives and is expected to be fully operational in 2015, Richey said.
Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Montgomery County and Virginia Tech formed an emergency communications regional authority in 2010 in an effort to develop a consolidated system for receiving and responding to 911 calls and communications.
The dispatch center will allow the law enforcement agencies to share resources and information to enhance their response, county sheriff’s office Capt. Brian Wright said. Each agency currently has separate dispatch centers, but after the regional 911 center is completed, the dispatchers will be in one place.
Each police department will still use a different radio channel, but “everyone will be reporting to one central location so when [dispatchers] have information from one agency, they can share it,” Wright said.
Wright said the sheriff’s office is looking forward to its move because the agency has outgrown its current space.
“We’re so cramped right now in our current building,” Wright said. “Every storage closet that we once had has been turned into some type of office. There’s no storage, and individuals are working back to back.”
The public safety building will also have space for an armory, evidence room and lab, interview rooms, multipurpose rooms and classrooms, Richey said. Wright said the sheriff’s office doesn’t currently have room to hold trainings or large meetings and has borrowed rooms from other agencies.
Richey said there will be discussions between the town and the county Board of Supervisors to determine what the best future use will be for the sheriff’s office building once the staff has moved out.
Construction is expected to cost $8.17 million. Richey said the county issued bonds in 2008 and in earlier years to pay for the refurbishing of the building, the new courthouse and two new schools.
One of the four floors of the public safety building will be left vacant for future possible uses. Richey said the building is projected to meet the county’s needs through 2030.
“They planned 20, 30 years down the road so that those who come after us hopefully won’t have the space issues,” Wright said.
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