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New 911 center construction set for summer

The expansion and upgrade of a new 911 center at the St. Croix County Government Center is underway with the selection of an architectural firm to draw up plans.

"Wold Architects and Engineers of St. Paul has been selected to draw up the plans," said Casey Swetlik, Emergency Support Services (ESS) director, during a discussion in his office last week. "Bids for a construction partner were to go out in June and we expect construction to start in early August."

The current dispatch center occupies 440 square feet and hasn't changed since the Government Center was built in 1993, said Swetlik. "In fact, it has the same amount of space as the old dispatch next to the old jail on Fourth Street," he said.

The $1.5 million construction and expansion phase of the new center will increase the total to 1,104 square feet and take over the adjoining space now used as a community room on the ground floor of the building.

The current four dispatch positions will be boosted to six and ultimately eight in the new design. Currently, a staff of 16 works shifts of eight or 12 hours in the dispatch center operating around the clock.

The ESS offices where Swetlik is housed across the hall will become the new community center, he said.

Phase Two of the project is set for 2014 and includes upgrade and installation of the infrastructure at a currently undetermined cost.

All this is necessary because the call traffic has grown 12 to 18 percent a year and the infrastructure is at the end of its life, Swetlik said.

Along with the expansion of the 911 center there is a plan to determine the possibility of a merger with Pierce County.

A proposed resolution to approve a feasibility study to consolidate the 911 centers of both counties was on the agenda for the June 4 County Board of Supervisors meeting. Also, the official blueprint of the new facility was expected to be unveiled to the board, Swetlik said.

The first big change in the dispatch center in 20 years is "very exciting for us," he said.