McLean County Executive Judge Curtis Dame is pleased with the completion of three major countywide projects.
Projects include the construction of the McLean County Home Place, a new broadband and 911 tower and the Digital Jobs Training Center.
“I am delighted that we are finally able to continue our efforts here,” said Dame. “We are on track for every project.”
McLean County Home Place, the county’s senior services center in Calhoun that burned down in December 2020, will be built at its previous location at 875 Walnut St.
A pre-tender information meeting was held on Tuesday, July 12 at the McLean County Courthouse, open to all interested contractors.
Proposals will be accepted by the Fiscal Court until 2 p.m. on July 26.
The facility is to be restored to its original size of 6,600 square feet with changes to the floor plan due to new facility design rules and code requirements since the building was constructed in 1993.
RBS Design Group in Owensboro was hired as an architectural firm.
The exterior is to be all brick and will feature automatic doors and awnings over the entrances to the front and rear of the building, while the interior will include a multi-purpose space, a commercial-grade kitchen, a reception area, public washrooms, staff washrooms and offices. , mechanical room, storage space and a separate storage space for the kitchen.
Dame said two recent additions have been made to the plan with the addition of the electrical installation for a back-up generator and the exploration of ways to increase the energy efficiency of the facility, in particular suspended ceilings and spray foam insulation.
“You can see the finish line now,” Dame said. “Having said that, we are excited about the building, to show all the planning and hard work to not only replace the facility, but a facility that will hopefully stand the test of time.”
The 300-foot broadband tower, to be built behind the McLean County Health Department on Kentucky Highway 81 in Calhoun, will help improve access to reliable high-speed internet and community communications. emergency.
The tower will be partially funded by a $498,900 grant the tax court received from the Delta Regional Authority in February.
Dame said a pre-tender site assessment took place on June 29, with three to four entities expressing interest in the project.
However, progress has been slow in terms of broadband development. Dame met with other Western Kentucky executive judges July 7 in Frankfurt to discuss the need to see more movement.
“There is a new broadband development office that is being set up and they are hiring a new director and they will be a grant process to help utilities…to be able to reach out and apply for these grant funds for help offset the costs of installing new poles, upgrading some infrastructure and getting these projects up and running,” he said.
Kenergy has already completed the pre-planning process to get fiber working in every home, Dame said, but there are challenges to “overcome upfront costs to ensure this project will keep rolling and flowing.” cash”.
“There have been numbers in the millions that have been cited that relate to what it’s going to take to get this project done,” Dame said. “…We’re talking about hundreds of miles of fiber that will need to be installed.”
If construction were to start now, Dame said it would take about three years to complete. McLean and other counties “must work to access those federal and state dollars to offset the cost” because the county does not have the funds on hand.
Despite the challenges, Dame said it was essential to complete the project.
“We needed this internet facility two years ago,” Dame said. “We know COVID has highlighted the problem, but we need to work to fix it and we don’t want to drop the ball now…”.
The digital works installation, part of the renovation of the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center in downtown Calhoun, is underway, Dame said.
“Construction is nearing completion on the two upstairs bathrooms and the entry and storefronts,” Dame said. “We should have an update for a new ribbon cutting for this facility (soon).”
The facility is funded by a $99,000 grant from the United States Department of Rural Development and will benefit from the installation of the broadband tower and fiber access improvements.
“Once we have reliable internet at home, it will train people to become customer service representatives and work from home and allow us to access other pools of talent and funding to create here. jobs that don’t require a major infrastructure installation,” he said.
Dame hopes all of these improvements will make the county “more competitive – not just on the small business front, but also being able to place individuals from larger businesses here in our county once we have all of these capabilities.”