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County breaks ground on new center

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San Jacinto County dignitaries break ground for a new Innovation Center.  Courtesy photo by Ray McCoppinSan Jacinto County dignitaries break ground for a new Innovation Center. Courtesy photo by Ray McCoppin

SJNT staff

COLDSPRING — San Jacinto County commissioners, dignitaries and residents celebrated a groundbreaking on Thursday for a new Innovation and Emergency Operations Center.

The shelter is located at 255 Live Oak St. in Coldspring and is an Economic Development Administration/DETCOG and San Jacinto County project grant-funded Project using EDA funds, American Rescue Plan Act funds with a county match, according to information from County Commissioner David Brandon.

This is a multi-use facility that will serve as an Emergency Operation Center, ag training area, with economic development breakout rooms and broadband communications.

Brandon said that when a disaster occurs in San Jacinto County can have all the support services in one location, such as FEMA, the Small Business Administration, Workforce Solutions and many more. Resources such as Army Corps of Engineers, USFS/TFS and many other federal and state agencies will be utilizing the facility alongside congressional and legislative members and staff. 

The operational side will be separated from the shelter building for privacy and safety reasons, since residents affected by some disaster could be sleeping there. The Red Cross can set up at either location and food, water and ice distribution can be staged at the shelter leaving the EOC building and parking open for needed response and recovery services.

At the event, County Judge Fritz Faulkner said that with the help Of Lonnie Hunt, director Of DETCOG, Christi Sullivan, grant writer who prepared the original grant, and Bob Bashaw with DETCOG, who is the current grant administrator, the process was begun. 

After extensive work by the court working on the plans and trying to keep it under budget, we contracted with Timberline Constructors of Lufkin to build the building, which is a 10,000 square foot facility, Faulkner said. 

The grant includes a $400,000 county match which the county acquired from a tax note, for a total initial budget of $2 million. However, the effects of COVID and the economy has pushed the costs to $2.9 million.

The county sought the services Of Langford Community Management grant administrators in order to gain approval to utilize American Recovery Act funds to cover the budget overruns, Faulkner said.

“The project will support long-term solutions that will improve the county’s ability to respond efficiently to future disasters and help recovery efforts from the devastation Of Hurricane Harvey,” he said. “Once completed, the project will serve as the centralized disaster response center for several economic development entities and will increase regional capacity to support job retention and creation.”

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