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Engineers tell Wood County Commission former Suddenlink building needs work

McKinley Architecture and Engineering of Wheeling President Ernest Dellatorre appeared before the Wood County Commission on Monday to discuss ideas for the proposed new Wood County 911 Center to be built at the site of the former Suddenlink call center. Among the ideas discussed were strengthening the exterior of the building as well as other changes inside to accommodate dispatchers and other emergency operations. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

PARKERSBURG — The former Suddenlink building will have to have work done to secure the building and the site to turn it into the county’s new 911 center, various engineers told the Wood County Commission on Monday.

The commission began the process of interviewing prospective firms to do a design for renovations to the building at the intersection of U.S. 50 and Interstate 77 to become the new hub for the county’s emergency communications with the potential of one day becoming a regional hub.

Representatives from ZMM Architects & Engineers of Charleston, S&S Engineers & New River Engineering of Athens, WYK Associates Inc. of Clarksburg, The Thrasher Group of Charleston; and McKinley Architecture & Engineering of Wheeling appeared before the commission to give presentations on why they should be chosen to do the design and engineering work for renovations and to offer some initial thoughts on the building after recently touring it.

Work would have to be done to secure the building and reinforce it, a number of representatives said.

Since it was initially a call center, exterior walls would have to be strengthened, potential bulletproof glass could be installed in the windows or the windows could be built over and covered, egress and how the building will be accessed will be changed, among many possibilities. Also because it was a call center a lot of things are already in place to handle computer setups and call capacity.

Architects Adam Krason and Dave Ferguson of ZMM Architects & Engineers of Charleston present a design idea Monday to the Wood County Commission for a new 911 Center to be created from the former Suddenlink building at the intersection of US 50 and I-77. A number of engineering firms made presentations in the proposed project. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

The building would have to be able to withstand a strong storm or a potential terrorist attack in order to keep operating 24-hours a day, seven days a week, some of the engineers said.

The Thrasher Group suggested putting up an 82-foot perimeter fence around the building to help with security.

County officials would initially like to have a dozen or so workstations that could be increased to 18 and eventually 24.

Commissioners said there is talk at the state level about creating regional 911 centers to handle multiple counties statewide. Officials wanted to plan ahead to make this a possibility for the Wood County 911 Center to fill this role.

“We would be well prepared to be the regional location,” Commission President Blair Couch said.

The current 911 center handles dispatching for Wood and Wirt counties.

With a high demand on building materials each company was asked if they could utilize alternative building materials, based on availability with many saying they could.

There has also been talk of this work would be done to secure the building it would be a good place to store the county’s election equipment.

Many of the firms who appeared before the county commission said the initial planning period would be around 90 days.

The commission is planning to make a decision on Monday on which firm they will go with. The matter is being put on the agenda.

Brett Dunlap can be reached at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

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