With a proposed emergency services facility in the works in southern Broadwater County, Sheriff Nick Rauser believes it is very important to move forward with the project that would be located on three donated acres of land in the Wheatland Targeted Economic Development District off U.S. 287.
"Looking into the future, the south end of Broadwater County is going to continue to grow. Bozeman, Manhattan, and Three Forks are all growing, and so will Broadwater County," Rauser said.
During a presentation at a public meeting in September, Scott Cromwell of Slate Architecture told those in attendance that the footprint of the building would be 16,320 square feet and a total of 16,800, including an upstairs addition. The Sheriff's Office portion of the facility would include a patrol room, captain and sergeant offices, interview rooms, and an evidence hold.
"Obviously, with growth and more people, the need for emergency services also grows. It will take some time for the building to get approved and built. The cost of things will only continue to go up. So, if we can get the building done sooner than later, hopefully, it is there and ready to go as things continue to develop and grow," Rauser said.
While Broadwater County has been offered space in the yet-to-open Headwaters Rest Area near Wheat Montana, Rauser said it would be nice to have the proposed emergency services facility and a space they can grow into instead of growing out of.
"It would be nice for the public to have a nice area to talk to Deputies, to do interviews, write reports, and do everything else we do on a normal basis," Rauser said.
The proposed facility also includes two pull-through bays for ambulance services.
Barbara Mutter of Three Forks Area Ambulance said if the facility is manned, it would improve response times to the growing community in southern Broadwater County. However, she added the biggest question is who will 'man' the building and how much that would cost.
"The whole state is behind the eight ball now. We need more law enforcement, highway patrol, firefighters, and EMS services across the state," she said.
Mutter also expressed concerns with the cost of building and maintaining the facility.
"And last but not least, the water issue," Mutter said.
The facility would also have room for a 2,800-square-foot expansion, including two pull-through bays and a new total of 19,200 square feet. The estimated cost of the project is $5.4 to $6.8 million. Estimated yearly costs for utilities would be $44,952 and $36,747 for maintenance.
In a recent letter to county residents, the Commissioners stated they had saved a sizeable amount to help with the engineering and construction but asked for letters of support to assist with securing grant funding.
Along with a possible new facility on the horizon, Rauser is currently working on getting an SRO position for the Townsend schools. He said this position would be assigned to work in the county's southern end in the summer. In the next budget cycle, Rauser will work on getting one more deputy to work year-round in the southern end of Broadwater County to add to the other couple of positions they already have in the area. Rauser said he would use the mill levy to fund these positions.