Emergency renovations

Two different renovation projects in the Ravalli County Courthouse basement have soothed a number of concerns in the county seat, including wasted tax dollars and a dangerously cramped 911 Dispatch Center.

Joanna Hamilton, 911 dispatch director, says her staff is preparing to move into a newly remodeled corner of the basement by early October. The $831,500 project increased the dispatch center's space from 454 square feet to nearly 2,000 square feet.

"One thing I like is the fact that we'll have natural lighting in there," Hamilton says.

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As contentious as the center's lack of windows was in the past, the lack of a security system until now remains a larger point of concern. Hamilton says the center has always operated without a security system, opening the door for potentially dangerous situations.

"Sometimes we didn't know who we were letting into the building," Hamilton says. "Even though they told us who they were and where they work, we had no way to verify that."

Elsewhere in the courthouse basement, maintenance supervisor Brian Jameson received the green light to repair a worn pump system and leaking sewage line, solving long-standing concerns over potential flooding.

First on Jameson's list is a cracked sewage line. Overactive pumping in the sewage system has driven energy expenses up throughout the summer. Jameson says Pioneer Sewer and Drain Cleaning of Missoula will repair the line this week.

The bigger issue lies in a stock of worn sump tanks that pump unnecessary amounts of water at all hours during peak groundwater elevation.

"I'm estimating [savings of] $3,000 to $5,000 a year in not having to pump those pumps as often as we have," Jameson says.

The spacious new dispatch and preventative flood improvements have smoothed almost all the ruffled feathers in the courthouse. Almost.

"Of course, it would have been nice to have our own building," Hamilton says. "But..."

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