Tharan Outlines Priorities for Mammoth New Clarion County Building
(Pictured above: Scott Apel, Ted Tharan, John Stiglitz, and John Wolbert discuss plans for the new 9-1-1 Center in a county warehouse.)
Some renovation is needed to house the 9-1-1 Communication Center from the old Clarion County Jail and Public Safety offices from the courthouse to the new building, while other offices in the warehouse will need little additional work for offices.
Commissioner Ted Tharan, also serving as clerk of the works for the project, has most of the plans in his head right now. The indoors of the warehouse resembles an abandoned Sam’s Club with aisles and aisles of abandoned shelving and enough room to include many Clarion County operations and store vehicles.
“There’s a lot of thought that goes into this process, said Tharan. It’s all in my head, but John’s got it in his head because I tell Maintenance Chief John Stiglitz everything.
“We’ll put it on paper and have an architect come in and take everything down. You’ve got to put it on paper and get the occupancy permits and all that. We’re just in the planning stage right now, and we have to think everything through and don’t do anything ahead of steps. We have to have the security in place before moving 9-1-1 and operate the existing 9-1-1 concurrently and get all the bugs worked out.”
Moving 9-1-1 and Public Safety offices are the priority, and other phases will follow in what is likely to be a multi-year project.
In constructing the 9-1-1 office in the middle of the warehouse, anybody who comes in will have to be buzzed in, and there will be another locked door to the center. All new equipment will be installed in the 9-1-1 Center, complete with all communication equipment.
Public Safety offices such as emergency management will be located near the 9-1-1 Center, along with what Tharan calls a “war room” as a meeting place and data center for emergencies. All of these offices are now located in the old Clarion County Jail, and some public safety offices are located in the courthouse’s basement.
Clarion County also uses the old jail for records storage, but those will also be moving to the warehouse.
“Record storage will move out of the jail into here, but we’ve got to build a hermetically-sealed climate-controlled room,” said Tharan.
With everything in the old jail eventually moving over to the warehouse, commissioners will again be deciding what to do with that building. With so many things up in the air, decisions about the old jail’s fate will have to wait.
Emergency vehicles will also be stored in the warehouse, eliminating the need for the recently purchased Riverhill Beverage Inc. in Paint Township for $150,000. Tharan expects to sell the Riverhill Beverage property once renovations are completed for the warehouse because it will no longer be needed for space.
Asked for a timeline for completion, Tharan said there isn’t one.
“As long as Mr. Murphy and Murphy’s Law is alive, there are no timelines,” smiled Tharan. “Murphy’s Law is – Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
“We don’t want to hurry. We want to make sure it’s all done right. We have very competent people who do a hell of a nice job. We have hired eight temporary employees with different skill sets, including a certified electrician.”
The warehouse will even allow more support for elections.
“What we’re doing right now is using a big room for elections training,” said Tharan. “With all of those tables and chairs, there is enough space to distance everybody six feet apart. They do all their training here and keep all of the voting machines locked in the secure back room. Whenever they’re done with the training, they can load them up into their cars. We’re not sure whether we’re returning the voting machines after the election, but we can put five cars right through the building if they do.
Earlier, some talk about a deadline of December 31 to complete the building to use some of COVID and Cares grant money, but that has changed, according to Tharan.
“We’ve already met anything that we need to do with that because they clarified that labor spent by the county on sheriff’s deputies, prison guards, and on 9-1-1 dispatchers and supervisors are allowable expenses. We will have had $2.5 million of that expense this year from March 1st through December 31.”
Sorce continues to lease a small part of the building and is expected to move out to another nearby warehouse and remove its remaining stock to that location. Clarion County will retain an extensive collection of shelving similar that is used in Sam’s Club.
“We can use it for storage of PPE. We can put pallets of water, pallets of blankets, whatever we need for emergencies because we don’t have any room to do that now,” sad Tharan.
“I’m hoping we could maybe become the Western Distribution for The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) because we have the space to do it here now and steel racking to put along two walls.”
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