LOCK HAVEN - The Keystone Central School District and the Clinton County commissioners are near an agreement on sale and purchase of the district's soon-to-be vacated former Flemington Elementary School.
At Thursday's meeting of the board, Commissioner Jeff Snyder signaled a likely announcement within the next two weeks concerning the county government's offer to buy the building from the district.
And while he declined to outline details, it is clear many of the details accompanying the transfer of that property have already been worked out either on paper or in conference.
"We're getting very close," Snyder said. "With the current pending update in equipment, this is a perfect time."
The equipment to which Snyder referred involves software and hardware already approved in connection with the county's switch to a different bandwidth to comply with Federal Communication Commission mandates.
Snyder said several other former schools in the state have been converted to 911 dispatch centers, so Clinton County is not quite reinventing the wheel.
The district's Flemington building is now being used as its technology center, but late last year, the school board announced it would be abandoning the facility as a cost saving measure, along with the present administration building in Lock Haven and the Lamar Township Elementary School.
In the meantime, county government has been considering for several years options toward creating a new 911 dispatch center to replace the present headquarters in the basement of the county-owned Susque-View Inc. extended care facility.
The current center is considered to be inadequate and cramped.
Snyder, a former school board member who has been spearheading the deal, said talks between the two governments have been very positive.
Additionally, he said, EADS Engineering Group recently gave the county "two free days" of examination of the facility to determine if there are any structural or design deficiencies that might preclude the idea.
In the end, Snyder said, EADS gave the county "the green light" to move forward.
All three commissioners, including Snyder, Joel Long and Pete Smeltz, have said the needs of the Department of Emergency Services have increased dramatically since its initial inception in the 1970s.
The present-day department offers a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week enhanced service along with a support staff which follows a comprehensive approach to emergency planning and preparedness to insure the safety of our residents."
The talks actually began in early January, but were sparked several months earlier amid growing concerns about a budget crunch, when district Superintendent Kelly Hastings announced the closing of several school facilities.
Currently, several related departments, including the county's 911 emergency center, its HAZ-MAT response program and the local emergency management agency, are housed in the basement of Susque-View Home Inc. The location was chosen some 20 years ago and is now considered too cramped and outdated for today's technology and the needs of those departments, according to Emergency Services Director Kevin Fanning.
The school complex has been assessed at $733,000 and contains approximately 22,900 square feet, although not all of it is usable. If the county is successful in its effort, most of the renovations and designs would happen in the newer section of the building.
The original Flemington school was built in 1919, but additions and renovations have occurred as recently as 1963.
In another 911 center related issue, the board updated its 911 plan for the years 2012 through 2014.
The action allows the county to accept the $1.50 per-line charge for land-line telephone services.
The billing fee brings in about $350,000 a year to the local center .
However, Emergency Services Director Kevin Fanning noted the funds are gradually decreasing as area residents abandon landline telephones for wireless cellphones.