News 12 at First at Five / Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012
AIKEN, S.C. -- The irony is overwhelming. The current Aiken County EMS headquarters is crammed into a building that once housed a morgue.
"They don't enjoy being down there very much,” said Aiken County Assistant Administrator Brian Sanders.
On Wednesday morning, EMS supervisors packed into a small conference room for training. Outside, stretchers lined the narrow hallways. Closets nearby are an organized madness. But all of that is about to change.
Sanders gave News 12 a first look inside the construction zone. Workers are putting the finishing touches on the new headquarters building that should be done in a couple weeks.
"It's going to have a huge impact to the service that we provide,” Sanders said. “Of course, the location can't be beat. It is right here on York Street near downtown Aiken. There are arteries going in every direction."
The county purchased the old Coca-Cola bottling plant near the intersection of York Street and Hampton Avenue back in 2010 for $950,000. So far, renovations have cost about $1.4 million and about $360,000 of that was paid with stimulus (American Reinvestment and Recovery Act) dollars.
"It would have cost a good bit more to build a brand new facility,” Sanders said.
There have been some complications. Part of the original building isn't seismically safe for living quarters, so a new EMS substation had to be built separately next door. But Sanders says that just opened up more space in the original building for the county’s Grounds and Maintenance Department and storage space for the Coroner's Office, too.
"We were able to do a lot more with this facility than we first envisioned, and it turns out, to me, to be a blessing in disguise,” Sanders said.
Besides the new substation at this facility, they're also planning to build substations in both Windsor and Monetta.
Ultimately, Sanders says Aiken County is in the middle of a renaissance. He says the county has a new health department, EMS facility, and it’ll soon have a new animal control building and county government complex, too.