The Wilkes County commissioners moved closer to constructing an emergency services center and other new government facilities by unanimously approving a preliminary design-build agreement with Jefferson-based Vannoy Construction on Sept. 7.

The action authorized Vannoy to design the emergency services center for $256,875, prepare documents for building the facility for $185,312 and determine the project’s guaranteed maximum construction price for $42,813. The total is $485,000.

County Attorney Tony Triplett said he and County Manager John Yates negotiated with Vannoy for several months on the agreement. Vannoy has started designing the emergency services center and shared drawings with Yates, he added. Additional commissioner approval is needed for Vannoy to start construction.

The facility is planned on county-owned land near the intersection of Call Street and Oakwoods Road in Wilkesboro and will include the main Wilkes Emergency Medical Services base.

The main EMS base now is in a building adjacent to Wilkes Medical Center in North Wilkesboro. Commissioners have indicated uncertainty about how much longer it may be available because it is subleased from the hospital.

Triplett said the agreement approved Sept. 7 authorized employing Vannoy as the county’s design-builder for the emergency services center.

He said it also gave commissioners the option of proceeding similarly with a proposed new county office building and a third county government facility still to be determined.

“The only thing it locks us into is paying the amount designated (total of $485,000) in the contract for Vannoy to design an emergency services center” and do related work. “Beyond that, it’s the boards option whether to proceed or not.”

As for the third county facility, the commissioners earlier discussed renovating the current county office building on North Street in Wilkesboro for housing the Wilkes Health Department.

Commissioners also discussed possibly constructing a facility addressing facility needs of the Wilkes Department of Social Services. This discussion has included the possibility of a new facility for a combined Wilkes County Health Department and Wilkes DSS.

The new county office building apparently would be constructed on three acres at the intersection of Courthouse Drive Extension and Executive Drive in Wilkesboro, which the commissioners approved buying in late April. It adjoins the Wilkes Agricultural Center property.

It later was announced that Wilkes Community College was donating land nearby along Executive Drive and behind Herring Hall to county government.

In March 16, the commissioners unanimously approved a resolution that outlined undertaking the three projects in phases with the design-build construction method. They also approved a reimbursement resolution saying the county would spend a maximum of $30 million on the three projects.

In May, the commissioners heard presentations from representatives of five companies vying for being chosen design-build contractor for the projects. They agreed then to move ahead with Vannoy.

Wilkes County government has never used the design-build process for constructing a facility. A design-builder is responsible for all of a project’s design and construction.

Proponents say it’s more efficient than hiring an architect to design a facility, putting the project out for construction bids and approving the lowest responsible bid.

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