December 6, 2013 10:21:38 AM
Oktibbeha County School District's administrative home could be retooled for E-911 use, a move that would alleviate space restrictions at emergency management's current Jefferson Street location.
Orlando Trainer, county board president, said supervisors are open to such a move in the future even though Commission on Starkville Consolidated School District Structure members have yet to confirm how the facility could be used once Starkville School District and OCSD merge in 2015.
The county-owned facility was constructed in 2011 after the district's former headquarters was damaged during Hurricane Katrina. Work began on the 8,000-square-foot, almost-$1.6 million facility while the school district rented office space in the strip mall that houses Dirt Cheap.
A working plan to logistically join OCSD with SSD has been developed by the merger committee, but members have yet to say if they will recommend retaining the facility for educational purposes when the group presents its proposal to the Legislature by March 1.
Oktibbeha County Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Britt says his current facility, located across the street from the Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Department, has suffered from space limitations since the agency set up shop there almost 13 years ago.
"We've been looking for a place to go since we were put in here," Britt said jokingly. "We knew early on in the process it wasn't sufficient room, but it was the only space available. We were behind the 8-ball to make it happen. We've got equipment in every nook and cranny of this building, stuff piled on top of stuff."
Trainer said in September he hoped OCSD's office space would remain tasked toward serving the unified school system, but supervisors have discussed possibly moving its own administration into the building along with E-911, thereby freeing up space for court purposes at the Oktibbeha County Circuit Court Annex. The county education building and the annex neighbor each other, and Unity Park, a green space constructed along with OCSD's offices, neighbors the sheriff's department. Both Britt and Trainer said keeping OCEMA near the sheriff's department would be a priority if emergency management was to relocate.
"My thinking was that this building is designed for educational purposes...so I'm a little disappointed. At the same time, we've made no official decision yet," Trainer said. "Our discussions are really just for a point of clarity. The consolidation committee wanted to get some sort of direction on the possibilities of the building. It seems the board has other plans for the building, so I'll take those discussions back to the group."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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