RUSSELL COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) — It was raining Wednesday morning in Russell County, but that didn’t stop a small crowd from gathering on a piece of open land on Prentiss Drive. Citizens and dignitaries stayed dry under tents anticipating a groundbreaking ceremony for a future public safety logistics building.
Russell County Commissioner and Chairman Chance Corbett was the first to speak at the podium under one of the tents. There was no microphone, so he had to speak loudly.
“This is a project that I think most of us are very proud of and feel like it will change the landscape of how we do business in Russell County as far as emergency management goes and a lot of the aspects of what the sheriff’s office does, as well,” he said. “This building… The location of this building was chosen several years ago.”
Corbett said the county commission decided to purchase the open land on Prentiss Drive where the groundbreaking was taking place with the intention of putting new buildings there in the future. After COVID-19 hit, they realized that a lot of emergency management equipment the county had needed to be stored in temperature-controlled buildings.
“It will give us a location to store a lot of those items, to store some of the vehicles that we recently purchased, whether it’s the command and response vehicle or our other vehicles as well as far as emergency response goes,” Corbett said.
In an interview, Corbett said the building will cost about $2,072,000 and will be paid for with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.
After Richard Ashburn of Silver Run Baptist Church gave an invocation, Sheriff Heath Taylor welcomed everyone and said that the area they were in had needed to be upgraded for a long time.
“We’ve done a lot with very little for a long time in this county,” he said. “And you know, you say, and you work and you do things and you get a little bit. The commission has always done its best, in my opinion, to find what the specific needs are. We’re not a rich county. We don’t have a plethora of money and tax base coming into this, this county. So they have to very carefully pick and choose what they want to spend it on.”
“This building will better store and better protect these resources for ourselves and for our county,” said EMA Director David Martin. “Our future uses for this include possible drive-through clinics like Chance had mentioned earlier; the post hurricane or tornado temporary shelter; volunteer reception centers, that’s the place people go for donations and to go in the county to do work; the backup to our emergency operation center for our emergency operations center for [inaudible] operations.”
Martin said the location also might be used as a victims identification center or “off-scene sensitive area” for doing things privately.
“My vision also includes an area EMA building over here over here to the left for future events,” he said.
After closing remarks from a couple of commissioners and Corbett, the commissioners and other players in the project picked up shovels and turned dirt for a photo shoot.