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Ground broken on new emergency ops center

Government and military representatives officially broke ground on the new Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center this morning. They say the new building will allow them to work more efficiently in times of crisis.

"If we had the tornadoes again, our communication system's going to be right beside us. We'll be able to gather more information, make better decisions, move out faster. The main thing is, though, that our partners will be right beside us. It's going to be a great opportunity," says Brigadier General John Heltzel, director of Kentucky's Division of Emergency Management.

The new building, estimated at just under $10 million, will mostly be paid for through federal grants. Officials say recent natural disasters have shown just how essential an up-to-date EOC is.

"During the 2009 ice storm, when we actually had to call on the resources of the federal government, the Corps of Engineers, and all our state partners, we physically could not get them into this EOC. We were standing in the halls and we weren't very efficient because of that," says Heltzel.

But newer technology and more room for personnel aren't the only design feature of this facility.

"It'll be engineered to withstand an F-4 tornado or 200 mph winds so obviously, we want to make sure we're still standing if one of the tornadoes like we saw in Eastern Kentucky happens to come this direction," says Kentucky National Guard Adjutant General Edward Tonini.

National Guard officials estimate the new building will be completed by June of 2013.

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