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Boone County Celebrates New Emergency Center with Ground “Broken” Ceremony

Emergency vehicles on scene
The Camerons

Boone County Commissioners hosted the so-called ground “broken” ceremony for the new joint Boone County Emergency Communications Center. The ECC, which is set to open summer 2016, is located near the Boone County Sheriff’s Department Annex. In April 2013, a 3/8 cent sales tax was approved by voters to assist in funding the $10 million dollar project.

County Commissioner Janet Thompson says the term “ground broken” for the ceremony was due to inclement weather in the spring and summer that pushed back construction. Rain or shine, she acknowledged the new center wouldn’t be possible without the cooperation and efforts of the Boone County 911 Emergency Management Advisory Board and stakeholders such as emergency responders. 

“So many people here and others in our community have been and continue to be integral parts of this project that’s so critically important to the citizens of Boone County. And all are aware that their hard work has been and will continue to be on behalf of the citizens of Boone County,” Thompson said.

Previous emergency services were under a cooperative arrangement for 911 and emergency management from 1977 until 2012. Boone County Presiding Commissioner Dan Atwill says the 35-year-old system was a success, but changing technology is forcing 911 emergency management to keep up with the times.

“By 2012, the need for change and improvement was very evident and very overdue,” Atwill said. “The cooperative move between the city administration and the county was approached with serious interest. County officials looked at the system and the idea of the Blue Ribbon Commission was developed.”

Atwill says the Blue Ribbon Commission was behind proposing the state sales tax for the project, where the Boone County Emergency Communications Center would be built, and making sure the new facility would have updated technology to fit the needs of the community,  

First responders will also benefit from the new ECC. Randy White, City of Columbia Fire Chief, said increased staffing and upgraded technology will bring better 911 communication to all of Boone County.

“All those things will help us out quite a bit on the first responder end of it because that flow of information from the caller to the truck that’s responding is quicker, faster, more effective,” White said.  

Correction: This article original stated the budget for the project was $20 million. The project budget is $10 million.