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How Washington County officials are planning new emergency operations center

The current emergency operations center is in Lincoln which can cause issues being so far from the rest of county operations.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — Washington County is wanting to build a new emergency operations center after being in a temporary location for several years.

Right now, the Washington County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) sits in an old fire training facility in Lincoln, 35 minutes southwest of the county courthouse. 

County Judge Patrick Deakins says being more centrally located is a priority.

“Emergency response is an obligation uniquely housed at the county level of government. So it's a responsibility that we take very seriously that if the unfortunate should happen, we as a county want to be absolutely prepared to serve every citizen,” Deakins said.

Washington County Emergency Management Director John Luther says the EOC is not only important for coordination during emergencies, but also for everyday training, meetings and weather briefings.

“If people need to meet with us or others, we can certainly use the EOC for that day in and day out. And then when a crisis occurs, they're familiar with the property,” Luther said.

Luther says having a facility that is hardened and can withstand any weather conditions is critical.

“We're going to stay online if we go offline on the grid. We're going to have backup power, and generator power. So, communications and technology is going to stay online and they can actually, you know, represent and care for the citizens of their particular communities much better,” said Luther.

Pending approval from the Quorum Court, Judge Deakins plans to use the remaining $6 million of American Rescue Plan funds to build the EOC on land the county or City of Fayetteville already owns. He hopes to have a site selected by the end of this week and move to the Quorum Court immediately to get the design and budgeting process going.

“This is a project that has to be done by the end of 2026. And so, while that sounds like a long time, in the construction world— in the government world, we really feel like we need to hit the ground running. And that's what we've been doing. We've been putting a lot of energy into this in the last couple of weeks. And we're going to continue to do so until its completion,” Deakins said.

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