Posted: Feb 12, 2013 5:17 PM by KXLF
Updated: Feb 12, 2013 5:20 PM
Employees at Emergency Management Services and Montana Highway Patrol in Butte do not have enough office space. They proposed a construction plan together that will give them room to stretch.
"We need a new emergency operations center because the current offices in the basement of the courthouse that have been designated as an Emergency Operations Center just don't work for us," said Roger Ebner, coordinator of Emergency Management Services. "They are too small. We don't have the right equipment. It is ineffective, inefficient."
Butte's Emergency Operation Center has been in the basement of the courthouse for nearly 20 years. Space is a big issue, but technology is a bigger one.
"We don't even have back-up generator power, so if we need to respond to help people and it's at night, we're here in the dark," Ebner said.
The ideal place for Butte's Emergency Operation Center is the current Butte Drivers Exam Station and Montana Highway Patrol facility. Montana Highway Patrol needs more space too, according to Captain Gary Becker of the Montana Highway Patrol.
The Montana Highway Patrol District Office was built in 1973. It was spilt in half for the DMV when licensing became a civilian task.
"If we get four or five people in here they are stepping over the top of each other," Becker said. "The layout of this building just does not facilitate us being able to have something that's functionally operative."
The main workspace is meant for 14 state troopers. There are only four work stations. The remaining troopers must either stand or work off four file cabinets in the center of the room.
"If we need to do some training we have to go try and find some place that we can rent for hundreds of dollars to do the training, or we have to go around begging to be able to do training," Becker said. "We shouldn't have to be doing that as a state agency. We should be able to do our training in our own facility."
The current proposal states Butte-Silver Bow would pay for their half of the building and the State of Montana would pay for the Montana Highway Patrol portion. Each portion is about $1.6 million. The total cost of the project is approximately $3.2 million dollars.
"Right now we don't really have the ability to warn the residents in the most efficient and effective way," Ebner said. "A new facility will allow us to have the software, the hardware, the equipment in order to have mass notifications systems, the proper equipment for the responders to meet together and try to make decisions on how to respond to a large scale disaster."
Butte-Silver Bow has approved 90 percent of their share of the construction cost. The State of Montana is still in the process of approving their half of the cost.