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Tyler County Booster - Local News

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DETCOG Board Finalizes Funding for New Office and Operations Center

Tyler County Booster

As it celebrates 50 years of service, the Deep East Texas Council of Governments and Economic Development District (DETCOG) is moving forward with plans for a new office building and regional emergency operations center to be constructed in North Lufkin. Meeting today in Nacogdoches, the DETCOG Board of Directors voted to accept an offer of land and financial incentives from the City of Lufkin. With additional funding provided by the T.L.L. Temple Foundation and the U.S. Economic Development Administration, plus proceeds from the sale of its former building in downtown Lufkin, DETCOG will have approximately $2.6 million available for construction. The new facility, expected to be 15,000 square feet, will be located at 1405 Kurth Drive. "This new facility will enable us to consolidate our operations in the center of our 12 county region," said Lonnie Hunt, executive director. The organization has been headquartered in Jasper since 1972. It was originally located in Diboll from 1967 until 1972. "Jasper has been a great home for us," Hunt added. "And it will continue to be our home for a number of months until our new building is completed. But we serve a very large region, and being located in the center of our service area will allow us to operate more efficiently The T.L.L. Temple Foundation will provide $1 million for the project. "DETCOG plays an important role in our region," noted Wynn Rosser, executive director of the foundation. "They bring us together, and they provide meaningful services and programs. The foundation thanks and congratulates Mayor Brown, City Manager Keith Wright, and members of the 4B board and city council, for their work to attract DETCOG to Lufkin." "We are pleased to support DETCOG's board and staff in their vision for a lasting impact on our region. And we're particularly pleased with the chosen location. The foundation supports the revitalization of North Lufkin and the DETCOG building will be a wonderful addition to the community," Rosser concluded. The Economic Development Administration (EDA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, has also committed $1 million to the project. The EDA grant stipulates that the facility include a regional emergency operations and command center, providing multi-agency coordination during disasters and other emergency situations. The City of Lufkin incentive package includes the 3.5 acre building site, a $300,000 performance incentive grant, and a $200,000 low interest loan. Lufkin Mayor Bob Brown called it a win-win situation. "We are delighted that the City of Lufkin will be the new home of DETCOG," he said. "This is big for Lufkin, but it also benefits everyone in our region." DETCOG is both a regional planning commission of the State of Texas and a federally chartered economic development district. With a staff of 58 and a 2017 budget of $23 million the agency provides a variety of services related to public safety, economic development, affordable housing, aging and disabled persons and at-risk youth. DETCOG administers the Emergency 9-1-1 Network in all 12 counties of the region and also operates the 2-1-1 Texas information and referral service, as well as the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). Over the last decade, it has also been heavily involved in disaster recovery activities related to Hurricanes Rita and Ike. The DETCOG region is home to 381,589 residents. At 10,383 square miles the region is larger than the states of Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island. The organization is governed by a diverse 58 member board, two-thirds of which are elected officials of member cities and counties. Lufkin City Councilwoman Lynn Torres currently leads the board as president. Current vice presidents are Houston County Attorney Daphne Session, Trinity River Authority Executive Bill Holder and San Augustine County Judge Samye Johnson. Center City Councilwoman Joyce Johnson serves as secretary and Angelina County Judge Wes Suiter is the immediate past president. "This new facility is a certainly a team effort," said Torres. "The incentive package accepted today is a good investment for the City of Lufkin. And it wouldn't be possible without the Temple Foundation's generous gift. The Temple grant has enabled us to leverage the original EDA funding into something special that will benefit this entire region for the next fifty years and beyond."

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