With the financial assistance of a $315,000 community development block grant (CDBG) awarded to Benton County in 2019, the Emergency Management Agency (EMA) of Benton County will soon get a new home.
In his final week in office, County Mayor Brett Lashlee, along with EMA Director Richard Kee closed on a deal that has been in the works nearly four years with the acquisition of a 13-acre, 22,000 square foot facility located in the Benton County Industrial Park.
“Finding a permanent and sufficient home for our EMA operation has been a priority since taking office. Currently this critical operation works out of a 55-year-old county building that really is outdated, too small, and not set-up to allow for a fully functional operation,” Lashlee said.
The old EMA location allowed only for very limited staff and had no training space or storage facilities for the equipment needed in emergency situations. It was evident to Lashlee back in 2018 after a tour of the EMA facilities that the county needed to secure a properly constructed facility that would allow the EMA to operate effectively for decades to come. The new EMA facility will ensure that this goal is met.
After the CDBG is awarded to the county, the funds will be used for remodeling and enhancement of the building which will include training classrooms, offices for several state and county emergency personnel, a communications room, bathrooms and showers, kitchen, and equipment storage which will allow for a 24/7 operation if needed.
“It’s been a long and tiring process, but I am thankful this deal has closed,” Lashlee said. “The citizens of Benton County can rest easier knowing their safety and welfare has been enhanced tremendously now that our EMA operations will be headquartered in a location to bring the most capable and effective services needed in times of emergency.”