County Council Sets Stage for Relocation of Laurens County Emergency Management

County Council Sets Stage for Relocation of Laurens County Emergency Management

Laurens County Council has initiated the relocation of Emergency Management from the Old Library in downtown Laurens to the new Bolt Drive center near Hillcrest Square. This move is being funded by remaining ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds allocated to Laurens County. The newly repurposed center, a former grocery store, currently houses the Veterans and Voter Registration offices, which were previously located on the ground floor of the Historic Courthouse undergoing renovation in downtown Laurens.

“This project aligns perfectly with the intended use of ARPA funds,” remarked Council Member Luke Rankin during the June 24 meeting of the Laurens County Council, where plans were discussed to relocate Emergency Management from the Old Library in downtown Laurens to the new Bolt Drive center near Hillcrest Square. Additionally, updates were provided on the acquisition of new body cameras and dashboard cameras by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office.

The Bolt Drive facility offers ample unused space, slated to accommodate relocated E911 consoles. A dedicated communication line will link the center directly to emergency management in Columbia, with the existing line at the Old Library serving as a backup for emergencies.

The conversion and relocation project is budgeted at $1.23 million, with plans to secure additional funding through federal and state grants for constructing and equipping the Emergency Management Center. The facility will host between 7 to 10 telecommunications professionals.

County Administrator Thomas Higgs emphasized the opportunity to secure significant cost savings on communications and software by acting promptly with a service provider. The council was informed that there are currently 833 radios across the county.

Regarding ARPA funding, Higgs noted that while federal support is winding down, Laurens County has met all criteria to retain its $1.27 million allocation.

The Biden Administration’s White House has highlighted ARPA’s role in aiding communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including support for small businesses and essential services. The plan aims to distribute over $360 billion in emergency funding to state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments to maintain critical public services and support economic recovery.

ARPA is set to expire in December next year. Acting on Rankin’s motions, the Council approved a contract with a telecommunications provider to secure pricing ahead of potential construction delays. They also authorized an agreement for a dedicated hardline connection with the state. Rankin expressed his commitment to seeking grant opportunities in Columbia to support community projects like this one.