Dispatch center move is ahead of schedule

DOVER-FOXCROFT — The construction process to move the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center from cramped conditions in the county jail in Dover-Foxcroft into the administrative unit of the sheriff’s office on the first floor of the same larger building has been underway for over two months. So far the project is on pace to be completed ahead of schedule, County Manager Michael Williams said during a meeting on Tuesday morning, May 7.

“The dispatch move, that’s back on track after the asbestos we found,” Williams said. He said the renovations should be done the third or fourth week of July and the dispatch consoles should be moved in the second week of August.

“So we should be well ahead of the Sept. 9 deadline we had to be up and running,” Williams said.

In early March Old Town-based project architect Vicki Leavitt told county officials all the contracts and permits were in place to begin a 6-month timeline through Sept. 9.

In late November the county commissioners voted to proceed with a $668,944 project bid from Ganneston Construction. The other submissions were $763,750 from Sheridan Construction and a $876,215 proposal from Dunbar & Brawn Construction.

Twice last year the commissioners put the project out to bid. The decision was made to attract more affordable contractors and in December 2022 the commissioners opted to try again in the fall of 2023 to see if material prices would come down.

County officials had planned to move the dispatch center from the control room at the correctional facility in Dover-Foxcroft into the patrol and investigation divisions building in downtown Guilford. Financially and logistically, the sheriff’s office was determined to be a better home for dispatch.

Leavitt looked at three options for the dispatch center’s new location, including the basement of the Peaks House, which houses county offices and commissioners chambers; the basement of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension building; and the first floor of the sheriff’s office.

Leavitt recommended refurbishing the first floor of the sheriff’s office to meet the needs of administrative employees and dispatchers. She said the former dispatch space will be used by jail staff with the locking doors remaining in place.

The dispatch center is too small for current and future operations, and office space is shared with corrections staff, according to a presentation from Communications Design Consulting Group of Barrington, NH. County commissioners paid the engineering consultant $27,000 for a feasibility study on radio communications. 

The current dispatch set-up is inadequate for proper layout of the dispatch console equipment, the presentation from November 2021 said.

The dispatch center, when it was set to move to Guilford, was estimated to cost $500,000, plus another $57,000 fee for an architect.

By moving the dispatch center to a space in the sheriff’s office, where cable is already in place, a tower would not need to be built. The new tower was estimated to cost more than $100,000.

Staff Writer Valerie Royzman contributed to this story.

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