ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County 911 board of directors voted last week to purchase property just east of Rogersville and advertise for bids to construct a new central dispatch center there.
Hawkins 911 Director Gay Murrell said the property is located on East Main Street just outside the Rogersville city limits, but the plan is to request that the property be annexed into the city so it can receive various services including sewer.
The 1.66-acre lot will cost $125,000. There’s no way of knowing exactly how much the new 3,300-square-foot building will cost, but the board is hoping to keep the overall cost of the project between $300,000 to $400,000 depending on which specs for the building the 911 board ultimately chooses.
Hawkins County Central Dispatch is currently located in the basement of the H.B. Stamps Public Library in Rogersville, which Murrell said her agency has outgrown. The new location will allow for an additional dispatcher station to be installed, as well as a reception area for the public which is needed as Hawkins 911 continually updates its address and phone number records.
Murrell noted, however, that there may be some confusion in the county about how this project is being financed.
It’s no secret that some Hawkins County commissioners have criticized the new 911 building project and suggested it’s a waste of money because the existing facility can still be suitable with some building improvements.
The memory of the Hawkins County Commission having to give Hawkins 911 $40,000 in emergency funding two years ago is still fresh in many commissioners’ minds.
Although Hawkins 911 receives an annual $140,000 contribution from the Hawkins County Commission, it is an independent, nonprofit organization. Murrell is quick to point out that the county contribution is not paying for this project.
This year Hawkins 911 is receiving a one-time $150,000 reimbursement from the state for equipment upgrade purchases that have already been made.
In addition, this year Gov. Phil Bredesen increased operational funding for each 911 district, and for Hawkins 911 that will mean an additional $120,000 per year.
“That money has come in very handy, and that’s what we’re doing this with,” Murrell said. “A lot of the county commissioners still think Hawkins County 911 is a county office. What I hope to do at the next County Commission meeting is have something drawn up to explain to them what we’re doing, and that we’re not going to ask for funding from the county.”