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State-funded facility to house LCSO satellite precinct

County workers got the go-ahead on a state-funded Emergency Services building for the Gray Court area at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Laurens County Council.

The proposed building, which will sit on acreage donated to the county by ZF Transmissions, and will initially house a satellite precinct of the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office.

In addition to the new Gray Court facility, the council approved taking the first steps toward building a new central headquarters for Laurens County EMS.

“The sheriff has looked at putting precincts around the county, and if we pursue this precinct concept, it made sense for the sheriff to utilize the facility up there,” Laurens County Administrator Jon Caime said. “There’s going to be a lot more growth in that area in the near future, so it’s good to have the ability to have those resources where there’s going to be an initial growth in population.”

Rep. Mike Pitts acquired state funding for the building project, but the amount of money coming from the state has not been determined. Council members voted 5-1 to move forward with the project. Councilman Stewart Jones voted against the plan, saying the plan for a new EMS headquarters did not go far enough toward integrating privatized emergency-service entities.

Once the state funds are in hand, county officials will begin the bidding process with contractors, Caime said. The amount of funding and final bidding will determine the initial size and scope of the new facility.

The current Gray Court fire and EMS services will remain in place as is, Caime said, adding that call volume will determine if and when EMS units are placed in the new facility.

“This will allow for officers to be in that area more,” said Laurens County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jarvis Reeder. “If they need to go there to do paperwork; if they need to meet with victims or suspects they can do it there. It will cut down on the time they spend having to come back here to the main office.”

The LCSO has already increased patrols in the Gray Court area because of the growing population there, said Reeder.

“We appreciate ZF leading the way and understanding that good law enforcement can help attract industry,” he said.

Reeder noted that the LCSO is also attempting to upgrade its technology to help deputies work more efficiently. He said LCSO computers are not linked to the county’s dispatch system, making a facility such as the new one proposed in Gray Court more vital.

“This is a big step for the LCSO,” Reeder said. “Technology-wise, we’re not there; we’re not on the same sheet of music right now with other agencies. . . . We’re working on creating that technology, but the building is just a plus all around up there for the community, industry and everyone up there.”

As part of the plan for a new EMS headquarters, Laurens County Public Works Administrator Rob Russian and EMS Director Matt Pennington were instructed to begin a search for a suitable property for the new facility and to begin vetting architects for the project. Council members will also have to decide how to fund the project in the near future.

• In other business, a vote to sign a $2.7 million deal with Trane to replace HVAC units at the county’s Hillcrest Square complex failed after a 3-3 vote. Councilmen David Pitts, Ted Nash and Chairman Joe Wood voted against the motion. Council Vice-Chairman Keith Tollison was absent due to work responsibilities out of town. He has missed nine of the last 10 regular council meetings.

The council’s public works committee recommended accepting the contract, which also included energy saving measures in other county properties. The work would have coincided with a roof replacement at Hillcrest. According to the parameters of the agreement, Trane alleged energy consumption at Hillcrest and other county buildings would be cut by 31 percent.

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