SWANVILLE — Waldo County officially broke ground Wednesday, July 27, on its new Emergency Management Agency facility here.

County EMA Director Dale Rowley said the new facility will include an office and garage space and will be a total of 4,500 square feet, with 2,500 square feet dedicated to the office portion and 2,000 for the garage.

The facility will be located on county-owned property off Swan Lake Avenue, approximately one mile south of Swan Lake Grocery, Rowley said. He said the location is ideal for several reasons.

“We already have the land,” Rowley said. “It also gets out of some possible hazards where we currently are.”

Those hazards include navigating Route 1 around Belfast, especially in cases of emergency, he said.

Rowley also said the new location is more centrally located to other Waldo County communities, and because it is in a more rural area than the current facility at 4 Public Safety Way in Belfast.

The more rural location will also cut down on radio interference.

“We have a lot of radio interference here,” he said about his current office. “There is a lot less out there.”

Rowley said the total cost for the new facility, including installation of a 100-foot radio tower, is $2.6 million. He said all of the money for the project is coming from American Rescue Plan funds.

“This will put the county in a very good state,” he said. “Now we will have facilities that will last longer.”

Rowley said the new facility should be energy efficient.

“We want to keep the electrical use to a minimum,” he said. “We are hoping to put in solar panels and batteries to help generate power in the facility.”

Rowley said keeping the electrical use to a minimum also helps reduce radio interference as electricity creates waves that can interfere with a radio signal. The building will also include outdoor LED lighting that is motion activated.

“This will be a very quiet and energy-efficient building,” he said.

In addition to the new building, Rowley said his office was taking over the lease of a radio tower on Windy Hill in Frankfort. The lease was originally held by the county’s 911 Communication Center, but since they no longer had a need for the tower, the EMS department has taken over the lease.

Rowley said the tower in Frankfort is a “direct shot” from the tower to be built along with the new EMA building and will give the department better reach throughout the county.

Rowley said he anticipates that most of the work on the new building will be done by next spring and he said the county is using local contractors and materials where possible for the project.

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