FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Washington County Quorum Court approved an $8.3 million budget for a new emergency operations center last week.

Approximately $5.8 million will be funded through the American Rescue Plan Act while about $2.5 million still needs to be accounted for. Judge Patrick Deakins says the county will try to pursue federal grants while remaining as efficient as possible.

“As the design and the architecture of that building continues through the process, we’re going to look for areas where, we as the county, can step in and do a lot of that work,” Deakins said. “We’re already utilizing land that the county already owned, so we’re missing out on that particular burden on the taxpayer.”

The current emergency operations center is located in Lincoln, but the new location will be in Fayetteville near the county’s sheriff’s office and road services. Deakins says this provides a more central location with access to all necessary departments when needed.

Deakins adds that the proximity to Interstate 49 will provide better response times in the event of emergencies.

“I see this as one of our main obligations to the people to make sure we are serving them and making sure we are there safe in the event of an unfortunate circumstance,” Deakins said.

Regular 911 calls will be rerouted to the emergency operations center when needed. Deakins says the county will send out information to residents on how to contact the emergency management center in non-emergency situations.

The new building is expected to open in March 2025.