Emergency behemoth unveiled

Nov. 18—It was an exciting afternoon in Clinton on Thursday as members from not only the Sampson community, but across North Carolina, gathered to celebrate the new Sampson County 911 and Emergency Services building.

The cause of the occasion was the official open house event for the new building. EMS employees, county and state officials and members from the North Carolina 911 Board were just a few of the parties that came to commemorate this moment.

"This would not be possible without so many people working together," Sampson County EMS Director Rick Sauer said during the welcome. "I want to acknowledge our county commissioners and county administration. They saw the vision and the need for this new facility and they took action. If it were not for them, we would not be standing here today. You will see when you walk through the facility, that everything was well thought out."

"I'd also want to take a minute to thank and recognize the employees that work for emergency services," he added. "These dedicated employee service the citizens of Sampson County 24/7/365, you're the reason why we're here."

The new building contains the 911 Communications Center, two apparatus bays, up-to-date conference rooms, a multipurpose training room, a multipurpose Emergency Operations Center, multiple equipment rooms, EMS and telecommunications' bunk rooms and staff offices, all located within the approximately 36,000-square-foot facility.

At the open house and dedication, County Manager Ed Causey paid homage to the many entities that made the $18 million project possible.

"I want to acknowledge some of the many people that made this project possible and I want to apologize now for anyone I forget because many people came together to accomplish this," he said. "I've been a part of a lot of these types of projects in my previous years. In that time, I can tell you I've learned that when there's a project that involves a lot of like-minded people, it's a lot of fun. If you're lucky you could be a part of one where everybody's more interested in accomplishing the project more so than about any specific return that will come from it, much like this one."

Sharing stories on how the project came to be, Causey reiterated his thanks to those behind what was deemed a much-needed endeavor.

"Ee are proud of all of the things that we have accomplished here today. We looked at the conditions Emergency Services have worked in for years and years and realized this needed to be done. Think I can say that they are as appreciative for the facility as we are. We are just delighted and most appreciative of everyone who came out today and we can't say anything but thank you to the citizens of Sampson County for their support."

Some of those many partners that were paid recognition during the event were also shared on the open house program. Those include the North Carolina Legislative delegation, including Sen. Brent Jackson, and Reps. William Brisson and Raymond Smith, Jr.

The funding partners, Office of State Budget and Management N.C. 911 Board, North Carolina Department of Information Technology, The Golden LEAF Foundation and Truist Bank were also noted, as wereplanning, design and construction team partners Mission Critical Partners, Inc., ADW Architects and Monteith Construction Corporation.

The final recognition went to Emergency Management and North Carolina Department of Public Safety officials.

"I stand here before you with great pride as we celebrate this significant milestone in our community," County Commissioner Sue Lee said. "It is an absolute pleasure to welcome you all to a glimpse into the heart of our emergency operations."

"Here, our EMS staff work tirelessly day and night to ensure the safety and well-being of our community," she said. "As you walk through the facility, you will see the highly trained personnel at work who are always ready to answer the call when we need them. These unsung heroes are the lifeline of our citizens. This open house is not just to showcase our facility but also a chance to foster stronger connections within our communities."

"We are partners in sharing the security and prosperity of our community," Lee added. "It's not just about the equipment, but the individuals who dedicate their lives to serving Sampson County. It's about their unwavering dedication, their ability to stay calm under pressure, and their commitments to make a real difference in the lives of our citizens."

Of the $18 million cost, a good chunk was able to be offset from grant funding, including a 911 Grant ($5,479,453), Golden LEAF Grant ($1 million), NC Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM) Grant ($3.5 million), State Capital and Infrastructure Fund (SCIF) — ES ($3.5 million), SCIF — Tower ($250,000) and SCIF — Microwave ($350,000). The project also required $4.2 million in loan funding.

County leaders said the funding "played a pivotal role in advancing our $18.28 million project.

"These grants have contributed over 77% of the total cost. This collective funding has been essential in bringing our project to fruition, and we extend our heartfelt appreciation to all our funding partners for their support," the event program read.

Since the event was an open house for the building, it included refreshments, guided facility tours and interactive displays. Before attendees took part in those activities, guest speaker and Executive Director of the North Carolina 911 Board, L.V. Pokey Harris gave words to close out the ceremony.

"On behalf of the 911 Board, we just want to say thank you to all of the first responders," she said. "Emergency Services is important to everyone, but those folks that are first responders are the ones that literally provide that first cycle of care for all of us. It makes a difference when you have a comfortable place for these individuals to come to when they come to work, especially when they're performing jobs that are already so stressful. To have a state-of-the-art and comfortable home away from home helps make working their jobs so much easier."

Reach Michael B. Hardison at 910-249-4231. Follow us on Twitter at @SamsponInd, like us on Facebook, and check out our Instagram at @thesampsonindependent.