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County to hold open house for ‘new’ facility

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 11:32 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 11:39 a.m. CDT
(Ty Rushing/Newton Daily News)
The Jasper County Annex/Armory recently received new signage, and the county will be hosting an open house at the facility from noon to 3 p.m. Thursday. The building houses the Jasper County Conservation Office, Jasper County Emergency Management and the Jasper County Emergency Operation Command Center.

This Thursday will present an opportunity for all Jasper County citizens to see their tax dollars at work, as the Jasper County Annex/Armory will host its first open house.

The facility, located at 1030 W. Second St. S. in Newton, currently houses the Jasper County Conservation Office, Jasper County Emergency Management and the Jasper County Emergency Operation Command Center.

Jasper County previously didn’t have an EOC and this was made possible thanks to the donation of the facility from the National Guard.  JCEM Coordinator Jim Sparks thinks the new EOC will serve as a valuable resource for the county.

“The EOC will provide the capability to more effectively and efficiently manage major emergencies and disasters in Jasper County,” Sparks said. “It will be the central point of coordination and communication where all affected parties can work together to manage an incident. The EOC facility is intended to be used by any Jasper County jurisdiction to help manage an emergency situation.”

Putting together the needs for the EOC has been a multiple-department effort for county employees. During the July 23 board of supervisors meeting, Chairman Dennis Stevenson commented on some of the actions taking place at the EOC.

“I want to give a little background information on what we’re doing here,” Stevenson said at the time. “One of the things we are using the armory building for is our backup computer system. It’s where our EOC is going to be. It’s where our employees are going to move to if we have to close the courthouse down. One of the things we need is to have a generator out there.”

In addition, it has been proposed that the EOC should be able to serve as a backup dispatch center and have space for the Newton Amateur Radio Association to operate HAM radios to relay emergency weather information. The EOC also will have remote access to the county’s security cameras.

The entire armory/annex also will house a portion of the county’s fiber line system.

JCC Director Keri Van Zante also has been making good use of the new space since her office moved in last February.

“Jasper County Conservation has enjoyed having the extra space at the armory, as well as its great location next to Maytag Park,” Van Zante said.  “We have utilized the park for several environmental education programs already and are planning more for the winter months.”

The open house will last from noon until 3 p.m., and tours of the facility will be given.

Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at trushing@newtondailynews.com.

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