The new leadership on the Vermilion County Board owe it to themselves and to the county’s taxpayers to investigate the ongoing problems faced by a critical county agency.
County board members purchased a former retail site on Georgetown Road in 2005 to house the Vermilion County Emergency Management Agency.
Personnel in this department train hard to protect county residents from disasters, natural or manmade, and assist them if one should occur.
The Georgetown Road building was selected due to its storage capability, something missing in EMA’s former offices in the basement of the Public Safety Building. But other problems cropped up almost right away.
Today, EMA officials say the structure lacks adequate electrical service, is prone to flooding and presents other problems for them to carry out their duties.
County officials can’t just walk away, however, since they used federal grant money for the purchase. If they give up the site, they must repay the grant.
Why did county board members in 2005 think this building would fit the agency’s needs?
How did this building become so inadequate so quickly? Were the original specifications different?
How much will it cost to remedy the issues on the site? Are there other, cheaper options available?
Those are the questions an inquiry by the new county board leadership — Republicans gained a majority on the board in November after roughly 20 years in the minority — need to answer. And those answers should be shared fully with the public.
EMA’s role serves too important a purpose to ignore these problems. The sooner everyone knows the answers, the better iots personnel can do their duty safely and effectively.