This article originally appeared in Sampson Independent and can be viewed here.
CLINTON — A multi-million dollar project broke ground Friday, one that is expected to bring benefits to the county for years to come.
Just in sight of the Sampson County Detention Center on Fontana Street, a new Sampson County 911 and Emergency Services facility will be built for $18.4 million.The NC General Assembly Disaster Recover Grant for this project was $3.5 million. Sen. W. Brent Jackson, Rep. William D. Brisson and Rep. Raymond E. Smith, Jr. came to represent the North Carolina Legislature.
“What we’ve seen with the flooding over the years, it was not only myself but I’m with Rep. Brisson and others in the General Assembly, we went to work to see where we could find some money,” said Jackson.
Over half the funding for the project will be coming from grants, including the PSAP Disaster Recovery Grant, $1 million from Golden LEAF and $3.5 million from N.C. Office of State Budget and Management Disaster Recovery Grant.
“It’s an honor to be with you on this great occasion for people of Sampson County, I know that there’s been a lot of hard work, a lot of hours spent on planning and coming up with the ideas in getting to this day,” said Brisson. “I want to thank everybody that has had a part of it.”
“Yes, the 911 Board, we are very excited about the PSAP grant program that will support this,” said Executive Director L.V. Pokey Harris of the North Carolina 911 Board.
The Public Safety Answer Points grant came in at around $5.5 million. Those funds will go toward the construction, the equipment, the furnishings and the network for the facility, she noted.
“But what does all that mean? That means that the citizens of Sampson County can be better served. Those folks of the 100,000 plus calls to 911 every year, which for the most part they are calling on the worst day of their life,” said Harris.
The 911 facility will be 7,600 square feet.
“But they are going to have a facility that’s going to be equipped and furnished and have the employees in a comfortable space where they can be more efficient and more productive to answer that call on the worst day of their life,” said Harris. “We could see the commitment of this community, the commitment of the county government and the county leadership in that project.”
“We are proud to be a funding partner for this and we cannot wait until we come back for the ribbon-cutting,” Harris. continued.
Another recognition came for Ronald Bass, who was the Emergency Management Director with the county from 1995 to 2021.
“I can’t say enough things and, on behalf of the entire commission board, we want to thank you for the hard work you’ve done,” said Sue Lee, vice chairperson for the commissioners.
Also in attendance were Michael A. Sprayberry, the North Carolina director of Emergency Management, and Brian Raynor with the North Carolina Golden LEAF Board of Directors.
“The Golden LEAF board is proud to be a partner in this project to increase resiliency in Sampson County and relocate critical emergency services outside of flood-prone areas,” said Raynor. “The board prioritizes projects to relocate emergency fire and medical services outside these areas because we know how critical these services are in saving lives especially during a disaster.”
The ribbon-cutting is expected to happen sometime in the summer of next year. The facility will be 36,000 sq. ft. and will house the county’s 911 telecommunications, emergency medical services, emergency management operations, fire marshal and addressing services, and emergency operations center.
The public safety facility was designed by ADW Architects of Charlotte, with engineering by the Stewart, Benesch and Optima companies. Consultation and planning services for 911 telecommunication design and migration has been provided by Mission Critical Partners.
Monteith Construction is expected to complete the project in 14 months.
Right now, emergency and 911 services are in a 65-year-old former National Guard facility, that has flooded on numerous occasions. Financing has been secured with BB&T, which is known now as Truist Bank, for $7.7 million. There will also be money from the county’s annual allocation of 911 emergency services technology funds.
Dignitaries from all over the county came out to represent, and numerous emergency first responders were there.