Whitfield County commissioners agree to seek bids for a new mobile command center

From chemical spills in Dalton to helping with the aftermath of a deadly tornado in Ringgold to a manhunt near the Gordon County line for a man who shot a Whitfield County Sheriff's Office deputy, Whitfield County's mobile command center has gotten plenty of use during the past 16 years, according to county Emergency Management Agency Director Claude Craig.

But Craig says the mobile command center's technology is aging and the equipment has seen a lot of use.

On Monday, the county Board of Commissioners voted 3-1, with Barry Robbins opposing, to allow Craig to put out a request for bids for a new mobile command center.

Built on the chassis of a fire truck, the mobile command center has a meeting area and telecommunications equipment and other technology needed to coordinate a large group of law enforcement officers, firefighters and other first responders.

"We probably have between 15 and 20 callouts (each year)," said Craig. "And we use it for training. We've got two fire departments, two police departments. When they train together, we train with them to coordinate them."

Because of mutual aid agreements with neighboring counties, the mobile command center is used across Northwest Georgia.

"In fact, we have been over in Walker County for the past week and a half," said Craig. "They are redoing their 911 center. It (the mobile command center) can be used as a backup for a 911 center, so Walker County has been using it while they redo their 911 center."

Craig said during the past three years the county has spent between $3,100 and $5,100 a year on repairs and maintenance to the mobile command center.

Board Chairman Lynn Laughter noted that Craig has asked commissioners to replace the mobile command center for several years. Craig said he expects the unit would cost around $1 million.

Robbins said he understands why Craig wants to replace the aging mobile command center.

"But now just isn't the right time," he said. "I'd like to wait until we get through this (new coronavirus COVID-19) pandemic situation and see where we are financially and fiscally before we allocate money for that expenditure."

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