Franklin County to receive over $2 million from Congress for emergency operations center

Mar. 13—FARMINGTON — Franklin County has been awarded just over $2 million in federal money to help pay for an emergency operations center on County Way.

County commissioners will use the money and $1.67 million from the county's allocation of $5.86 million from the American Rescue Plan Act for the nearly $3.7 million building.

The center will include the Sheriff's Office, IT Department, the Emergency Management Agency and emergency services.

The jail, the Sheriff's Office the Regional Emergency Communications are in separate buildings on County Way off state Route 4, also known as Fairbanks Road.

It will also include a meeting room for county commissioners. The Commissioners' Office and its administration will remain at the Franklin County Courthouse on Main Street. Due to lack of space, commissioners are meeting upstairs in the courthouse, which sometimes conflicts with court sessions.

The plan also includes bringing the District Attorney's Office, which is near the courthouse, back to the courthouse.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced March 8 that she secured nearly $18.5 million for 12 fire stations and emergency services facilities throughout Maine in the fiscal year 2024 Agriculture and Rural Development and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bills. The bills, which were included in legislation and passed Friday, were signed into law by President Joseph Biden on Saturday.

The new building would be built diagonally across from the jail in a field the county owns.

Port City Architecture of Portland designed the building.

County commissioners agreed in October 2023 to pay the company $260,584 from ARPA for the second phase of the project. JF Scott Construction of Winthrop is the project manager.

Since it will cost about $60,000 to demolish the Sheriff's Office, one option commissioners are considering is keeping it for storage. That would eliminate several metal shipping containers outside the Sheriff's Office that are used to store items for several county departments.

In order for the county to secure a contractor, it would need to send the project out to bid by early April when contractors are generally looking to secure work for the year, county Administrator Amy Bernard previously said. If that occurs, they could break ground in June, she said.

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