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Where emergencies will be managed

Hillcrest East will replace the Old Library in Laurens as E911 call-receiving center, with dedicated line to State Emergency Management


Laurens County Council has taken the first steps to moving Emergency Management from the Old Library, in downtown Laurens, to the new Bolt Drive center near Hillcrest Square.

The work will be done with leftover ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) money in the possession of Laurens County. The former grocery store now holds Veterans and Voter Registration offices that used to be in the ground floor of the under-renovation Historic Courthouse in downtown Laurens.

“This is the kind of project ARPA was designed to fund,” said Council Member Luke Rankin, who will be the county’s next SC House of Representative member, at the council’s June 24 meeting. Also at that session, council was updated on new body cameras and dashboard cameras being acquired by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office.

The Bolt Drive building has a vast amount of space unused so far. E911 consoles will be re-located there and a dedicated line will be installed from the center to emergency management in Columbia. Leaving the current dedicated line in place at the Old Library will provide for an emergencies back-up.

The conversion and relocation is expected to cost $1.23 Million, and the County also will be seeking federal and state grants to construct and equip the Emergency Management Center. There will be at least 7 and no more than 10 telecommunications working in the building.

The County can lock in considerable savings in communications and software with a provider if it strikes now, County Administrator Thomas Higgs said. There are 833 radios in the county, the council was told.

Higgs said, at the federal level, ARPA is expiring, but Laurens County has met all the requirements to keep its fund, stated at $1.27 Million.

The Biden Administration White House says ARPA has helped millions of workers emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and will “Support communities that are struggling in the wake of COVID-19. Millions of American workers reside in communities that suffered disproportionately in recent months. The Plan provides critical support to these communities. It will:

Provide emergency grants, lending, and investment to hard-hit small businesses so they can rehire and retain workers and purchase the health and sanitation equipment they need to keep workers safe. This includes a Small Business Opportunity Fund to provide growth capital to main street small businesses in economically disadvantaged areas, including minority-owned businesses.

Distribute more than $360 billion in emergency funding for state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments to ensure that they are in a position to keep front line public workers on the job and paid, while also effectively distributing the vaccine, scaling testing, reopening schools, and maintaining other vital services. State and local employment has fallen by around 1.4 million jobs since the pandemic began including layoffs of 1 million educators, compared to around 750,000 job losses during the Great Recession.

Help hard-hit public transit agencies avoid layoffs and service reductions, which disproportionately harm workers who are more likely to be dependent on public transportation.”

ARPA expires Christmas of next year.

On motions by Rankin, the Council agreed to a contract with a telecommunication provider to lock in prices (so they wouldn’t be affected if county has a delay in the construction) and enter into an agreement for the dedicate hardline connection with the state. Rankin said when he gets to Columbia, he will be on the lookout for grant funding for community projects like this. 

How Laurens used its ARPA money here.