The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners approved awarding the bid to Roswell-based Catamount Constructors Inc. to build a law enforcement training center inside the county during its Tuesday meeting.
The bid was the lowest of three bidders the county received, County Manager Jerry Cooper said. The three bids ranged from $2.8 million to $3.4 million.
Cooper said he will bring back the construction contract to the commission for approval, which he said was contingent upon a reimbursement agreement with the state for construction and design of the facility for $700,000.
The project will be paid for from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.
Cooper said the actual project’s budget is roughly $3.4 million, but said construction costs are actually about $2.15 million. He said the county has budgeted roughly $500,000 for furniture, light fixtures and information technology equipment, which he said would still make the project roughly $600,000 under budget.
Cherokee Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Vic West said the facility will be about 11,000 square feet and will be mainly classroom space. West said once the construction contract is approved and building begins, the facility could be completed in six to eight months.
“We’re eager to get it started,” he said.
The facility will be adjacent to the county’s Adult Detention Center. The space is now used for outdoor storage facilities for the county’s Roads and Bridges Department and Cherokee Recreation and Parks Agency.
West said the project was originally around 7,500 square feet in scope and would have been well under way, but the state asked the county if it would be interested in partnering on the project.
The state offered to reimburse the county $700,000, and the project’s scope increased.
The state, he said, is eyeing the possibility of relocating its Georgia Public Safety Training Center’s Regional Police Academy in Dalton to Cherokee County because it would better serve the participating agencies by locating to Canton.
Along with the classrooms, West said the facility would include offices for the state and county’s training staff, a room containing padded floors and walls where officers can conduct defensive tactic training, a live fire shoot house behind the main facility and a 100-yard rifle shooting range.
He said the facility, approved by voters in 2004 as part of the SPLOST program, has been a long time coming and “it’s finally becoming a reality.”
County Commissioner Karen Bosch agreed, but she said the facility would be a regional draw because those in training would stay in county hotels and eat at county restaurants.
Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison said he was “excited about the partnership.”
“I’m very excited about the possibilities it would mean for law enforcement for Cherokee County and the surrounding area,” he said. “It would be a tremendous cost savings to the sheriff’s office and the police departments here.”
He said having the training center would save local departments from having to send officers to training centers in Forsyth and Austell.
The county also approved a memorandum of agreement between itself, Georgia Northeastern Railroad and Pilgrim’s to make improvements at the railroad crossing on Univeter Road.
The county would upgrade the crossing to concrete panels.
All three entities will each pay $19,830 for the repairs, which are slated to be completed in July. However, Univeter Road would be closed to through traffic for five days next month.
The county also plans to resurface Univeter Road between the bridge over Interstate 575 and the railroad crossing, which includes a smooth tie-in to the new panels during the road closure.
During its work session, the county board of commissioners:
* Heard a presentation of the Etowah Community Land Development Standards;
* Announced an award presented by Safe Kids of Georgia to the Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services, selecting it as Lead Agency of the Year at its Safe Kids Georgia Gala in May;
* Heard a presentation of the April 2012 financials; and
* Met in closed session to discuss personnel, litigation and real estate, but took no action upon returning.
During its meeting, the board:
* Heard from resident Carolyn Cosby, who criticized the board for its creation of the Resource Recovery Development Authority, which backed bonds up to $18 million to help Ball Ground Recycling bankruptcy relocate;
* Heard from resident Bill Bosch, husband of County Commissioner Karen Bosch, who thanked the board for its service to the public and for opening themselves for “public attack”;
* Heard from resident Tom Ware, who said the board has conducted itself with “honesty” and encouraged the county to try and find a solution to the Ball Ground Recycling bankruptcy;
* Approved re-appointing Janice Kane to the Sequoyah Regional Library Board;
* Approved reappointing Daniel Clifford to the Cherokee County Board of Tax Assessors;
* Tabled consideration of making appointments to the Cherokee County Airport Authority and the Cherokee County Board of Ethics; and
* Tabled a request to rezone 3.28 acres at 9111 Bells Ferry Road from agricultural to office-institutional for professional offices until June 19.