County looking into centralized resources center

WORTH CO., Iowa – Emergency Operations Centers are facilities that counties have, and hope they never have to use.

In Worth County, February’s fertilizer storage facility fire would have called theirs into action, except it was located in an evacuated area. So county leaders are thinking it is time to move into a new one.

Some facilities in Worth County are becoming outdated, including the conservation offices in Northwood.

“We don’t have enough space, and secondly, there’s a lot of things that are required by OSHA for the type of work we do that we just really can’t meet the new OSHA standards,” said Worth County Conservation Director Dean Mueller.

On the technology spectrum, they are running into some of the same issues.

“I’m backing up everything here at the courthouse, sheriff’s office stuff, all of our data gets backed up to a facility here in town. So, if the town happens to get wiped out, tornado, something like that, that really doesn’t give us a good disaster recovery situation,” said Worth County IT/GIS Director Joel Rohne.

That is why talks are brewing around building a new centralized facility. It would be located next to the Worth County Recycle Center near Kensett.

A fire at a chemical storage facility in February led to the evacuation of Northwood. While plans for a new facility started before that emergency, it is giving county leaders a reason to move forward with the plans.

“We couldn’t get to our EOC, because it was in the town,” Rohne said.

That made handling the emergency situation a bit more difficult.

“I had my laptop and a MiFi card, and that was all of the technology we had out there, except for a couple of smart phones. We actually had dispatch that couldn’t leave because, we didn’t have a backup dispatch facility,” Rohne said.

He said if the town had to stay evacuated for longer than it did, there would have been bigger problems on the county level.

The new facility they have in mind would take care of those problems.

“We could throw a few switches, plug a couple of phones in and we can have the county government up and running the next day down here,” Mueller said.

County leaders decided they wanted to fund the estimated $1.5 million project with general obligation bonds. That means there will be a referendum on the ballots this November.

They will be holding town hall meetings throughout Worth County leading up to the November vote. Those dates are listed below:

Sept. 9, 2014 – Northwood

Sept. 16, 2014 – Grafton

Sept. 23, 2014 – Manly

Sept. 30, 2014 – Hanlontown

Oct. 7, 2014 – Joice

Oct. 14, 2014 – Kensett

Oct. 21, 2014 – Fertile

For more information, call Dean Mueller at 641-324-1524.

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