EMA preparing for move to Northwest Parkway

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The Union County Emergency Management Agency is moving from its current storage facility at 445 North Maple St. to a pair of buildings at 20900 Northwest Parkway, the former Segner Construction and adjacent self-storage facilities. Above, EMA volunteers, from left, Rob Jostes, Bernice Smith and Marion Bump work to remove shelving to prep for insulating the building.
(Photo submitted)
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The Union County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) is on the move.
Earlier this year, the county commissioners purchased a pair of buildings at 20900 Northwest Parkway, the former Segner Construction and adjacent self-storage facilities.
Assistant Union County Administrator Letitia Rayl said the property was purchased for $650,000 with a renovation budget of $179,000. She said the move was “a fiscal decision that seemed logical.”
She said the EMA was outgrowing its current facility at 445 North Maple St.
Rayl said that building also needed “quite a bit of repair for that operation to stay there.”
She said it didn’t make sense to put repair money into the facility, “considering the size and growth of the division.”
Brad Gilbert, director of the EMA, said the agency shared the Maple Street facility with the county sheriff’s office. He said the new building will be better suited for the EMA.
“It is much more user friendly for us to use the way we need to,” Gilbert said.
The EMA maintains a variety of equipment for the county, including hazardous materials, mass casualty, incident management and public information trailers, as well as generators, lights and other equipment and supplies to support county citizens, first responders and other public health and safety agencies in and around Union County.
Gilbert said the Maple Street building has three bay doors. The new facility will have seven.
“We will be able to get our equipment in and out easier,” he said. “We will be able to organize equipment in a more efficient manner.”
The larger space will also offer a spot for the Union County Sheriff’s Office to store evidence. In March, the sheriff’s office moved a vehicle from a fatal crash to the storage facility, so they could preserve evidence.
The agency also provides a variety of services, including firefighter rehab, facilitating amateur radio communications, weather spotting and offering a variety of emergency related trainings.
The EMA’s volunteer group, known as the Operations Division, was started in 1951 as the Union County Civil Defense. The Operations Division has about 30 active volunteers.
Gilbert said the group has been able to continue to be a “valuable asset to the communities it serves by recognizing the needed support services for its partner agencies, as well as remain ready to serve the county at large in event of a manmade or natural disaster or event.”
Gilbert said he has not been given a timetable for moving to the Northwest Parkway facility. He said he is hopeful the new location will be ready “by mid-summer.”
County facility crews are working on a variety of projects — including insulating the building and adding an office for volunteers and the amateur radio operators — that need done before the new facility will be ready for the EMA to take over.
Gilbert said the EMA’s 100-foot radio tower needs moved, though “we are still working on zoning issues.”
“We are really excited, very appreciative of the commissioners’ commitment to our volunteer organizations and the work we do,” Rayl said. “It is going to allow us to house and offer our services in a more efficient manner and that will allow us to serve our partners in a more efficient and better way.”
Gilbert and the EMA’s administrative offices will remain at the current location in the basement of the Union County Office Building, 233 West Sixth St.
Rayl said the future of the Maple Street building is still up in the air.
“That is undetermined at this point,” Rayl said. “We are exploring several options, but no final decision has been made.”



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