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MECCA 911: So far, so good at new facility

The relocation of the Monongalia County Emergency Management Agency (MECCA 911) has been all systems go since the dispatch center transitioned from its former location on Mon General Drive to the brand-new facility at the Morgantown Industrial Park on Wednesday, March 27. 

“It went pretty smooth,” MECCA 911 Director Jim Smith told The Dominion Post on Friday. “You know, the whole staff pitched in and our contractors — Frontier and everyone — did a fabulous job. They had everything mapped out, laid out, and ready to go and it went off without a hitch.” 

The newly constructed, $10 million, 10,000-square-foot facility, which is suitably located at 911 Responders Drive, will serve as the command center for daily emergency communications throughout Monongalia County. 

The previous facility, built in 1997, is half the size at 5,000 square feet.  

Not only does the new building provide double the space available for operations, but it is also coupled with a 9,600-square-foot garage for emergency vehicles. 

The modern, state-of-the-art call center, built and owned by Enrout Properties and leased to the county for the center, sits on the hill above Mountaintop Beverage in the Morgantown Industrial Park. 

The fenced and gated building was not only designed for the daily Mon County emergency calls but will also be used as a regional emergency response command center that can be quickly transformed into a near-impenetrable fortress of communication. 

With blast-resistant exterior walls, a multi-layered building structure that will contain bulletproof doors and windows, an internal water supply and ventilation system, and more — the building keeps emergency communications active in the case of a serious disaster or zombie apocalypse. 

Smith said prior to the full transition, a refresh was done on the phone systems and other communication equipment allowing for clearer communications while keeping the same systems everyone knows.  

“So, coming into a new place, they were still familiar with the systems,” he said. The real learning curve will be learning where everything is. 

“It’s a little bit bigger building, with more space,” Smith added. “It’s just getting everything put away and making sure everyone knows where everything is — getting back familiar with where everything is going to be.” 

A big question mark on the transition was how easily the phone lines could be transferred from the old building to the new. 

That was a non-issue, Smith said. 

“Our phone system never went down. We had an instantaneous switchover,” he said. “Frontier did a fabulous job with the instantaneous switchover of our 911 lines from the old center to the new center, so we never dropped calls, we never had to have them switched to another county, so that was a fabulous job.” 

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