County granted additional funds for 911 center
BAKERSVILLE – The Mitchell County Board of Commissioners asked for and was granted more money from the state 911 board this past Friday and can now move ahead with the construction of a new 911 center.
County officials and others involved in the project went to Raleigh Friday, April 20, to ask for the additional funding. In a 4-3 vote, the state 911 board granted the $1.1 million needed to proceed with construction.
“Without this money, the project would die,” said Matthew “Vern” Grindstaff, chair of the Mitchell County Board of Commissioners. “When it came down to it, we got it, and I am thankful.”
Funding problems began after a bid opening Tuesday, March 20, at the county administration building when the lowest bid came in at nearly $1 million more than the county has available.
Hickory Construction Company submitted the low bid at a little more than $2.3 million. Three bids were submitted and the lowest and highest were separated by $80,000.
“The cost is clearly justified because the bids were so close,” Grindstaff said after the bid opening.
A 911 Board subcommittee recommended to not grant the funding, fearing doing so would set a precedent around the state, Grindstaff said.
“I told them we are in an old FEMA trailer and without this funding, I didn’t know what we were going to do,” Grindstaff said. “We are lucky to have gotten the funding.”
A similar situation happened recently in Martin County when bids for a new 911 center fell around $1 million short of available grant money. Representatives from Martin County also attended this past Friday’s meeting and were also granted the additional funding.
Mitchell County requested $4.1 million in the summer of 2016 and was awarded $2 million in August of 2016 to be used for site development and construction of the roughly 4,000-square-foot building. After administrative fees paid to project manager Mission Critical Partners and other associated costs, the county had around $1.4 million of the $2 million grant remaining for building construction. The county will use 911 surcharge funds to pay for equipment upgrades.
The board chose Gastonia-based architectural firm Stewart-Cooper-Newell to design the center and manage its construction, which will be on county-owned property near the county courthouse on Long View Drive just north of Bakersville.
Grindstaff said a grant letter notifying the county of the additional funding should arrive this week and construction is set to begin in June.