HARRISBURG – As plans to construct a new emergency management facility continue to develop, $500,000 has been committed to the effort through the Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program, according to Susquehanna County’s state legislative delegation.
Commissioner Alan Hall welcomed the news. “There is a long list of deficiencies and concerns, and we have been working very hard to streamline and modernize operations,” he said. “It is a sizable undertaking, so we are thankful for the assistance.”
A 2013 feasibility study identified numerous issues, such as a lack of cohesiveness between 911 and emergency services, a shortage of dispatch stations, zero capacity for extended emergencies, and insufficient communications capabilities.
In addition to placing 911 and emergency management operations under one roof, plans include offices for a magisterial district judge, undercover detectives, and the county coroner, as well as much needed meeting and training space. The project also calls for significant technology and equipment upgrades to ensure Susquehanna County is prepared to handle emergencies and provide services when called upon.
“The number and severity of natural disasters and human-caused emergencies seems to be on the rise,” Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20th) stated. “It is imperative for local communities to have the equipment, facilities, technology, and personnel to quickly and effectively intervene.”
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23rd) added that while our emergency responders are doing an incredible job, the opioid epidemic puts a tremendous strain on services. “The addiction crisis afflicting our state adds another set of very challenging response calls,” he noted.
“The need for a new 911 Emergency Management Center in Susquehanna County is thoroughly documented,” said Rep. Jonathan Fritz (R-111th). “Last year, the existing building was flooded, disabling the communications system for a time. We thought it was critical to work together to help secure the necessary improvements.”
Rep. Tina Pickett (R-110th) applauded the cooperation and the grant award saying, “State funding help is indispensable to constructing a facility of this scope in a small county. We will continue partnering to identify additional resources and opportunities.”
The 25,000-square-foot facility will be built in New Milford Township, with easy access to Interstate 81 and within sight of the Pennsylvania State Police barracks. It would also serve as a back-up for the courthouse, if the need arose, to ensure continued county government operations.