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Coronavirus relief funds to be used for planning in renovations of Carroll County office lobby, 911 centers

Dipping into Carroll County’s $14.6 million in federal coronavirus relief funding, the commissioners recently approved contracts for design services to renovate the county office building lobby and emergency communications centers.

The Board of County Commissioners on June 25 voted unanimously to award a $26,000 contract to Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects, a firm based in York, Pennsylvania, for the redesign of the lobby of the main county office building at 225 N. Center St. in Westminster. The board voted, 4-0, to award a contract totaling about $44,000 to White Marsh-based Manns Woodward Studios to redesign the county’s emergency communications center and alternate center. Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, abstained from the second vote.

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The county received $14.6 million in funding through the federal coronavirus relief package May 18. The money must be spent by the end of the year. To apply for this federal funding, the county submitted a plan to the state describing what it would use the money for, including renovations to the North Center Street lobby and emergency communications centers.

Eric Burdine, deputy director of public works, said the architects will provide concept drawings that, for the lobby, include automatic sliding doors with separate paths to enter and exit, new entrances to the departments of human resources and economic development, and modifications to the HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system, which are driven by the desire to encourage separation among people.

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Burdine estimated construction could begin in the office lobby by mid-August. Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, encouraged him to ensure the building is still accessible to the public during this time.

According to Burdine, Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees also weighed in on the redesign and offered suggestions relating to safety.

“When we do this concept we’re going to plan for the future as well,” Burdine said.

Commissioner Eric Bouchat, R-District 4, said he’d gotten some “flak” from residents about the cost for renovations, but said he felt the numbers put before the board were in line with industry standards.

Bouchat said in an interview that some of the complaints he referred to came from a “handful” of people associated with the Carroll County Republican Central Committee, who he said voiced concerns about the county’s spending habits. Bouchat noted part of the coronavirus relief funding will be used to hire a third-party grants accountant to track the spending, which Bouchat said helps prevent corruption.

The place where 911 calls are received, the emergency communications center, will also be altered with that funding.

Burdine described the renovation of the main center as adding a shower, expanding the kitchen, and making changes to HVAC, electric, and other systems as needed. The alternate communications center will be renovated to add four offices and a conference room, Burdine said.

“Ultimately, all of these projects are to make not only our building safer, but a safer environment for our customers, and that’s our Carroll County citizens,” Wantz said.

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