Tharan outlines plans for Sorce building

The former Sorce warehouse in Shippenville is being re-purposed into a multi-use facility by Clarion County.

Clarion County purchased the former Sorce warehouse in Paint Township for $670,000. The 50,000-square foot building will be converted into the county’s new 911 emergency call center and Emergency Management Services office.

That is only the beginning of a multi-year project, said Clarion County Commissioner Ted Tharan, who is acting as the clerk of the work on the project.

The first phase will be to open the 911 emergency call center. Access into the building will be through a controlled entry point.

“Anyone wanting to enter the building will need to be buzzed in by a county employee,” said Tharan.

The 911 center will be built in a large area that is currently an open space. Tharan said walls would be erected making the operations center an island with hallways winding around it.

Access to the center will be limited through a keypad controlled door. A second access door will also be controlled by a keypad entry.

“This was all recently remodeled,” said Tharan. “We will replace the ceiling tile and lights and build the walls for about $15,000 and we will be done.”

“We are going to start on it next week,” said Tharan. “We hope to have it completed within a year.”

A new communications tower will be erected adjacent to the building.

“We just completed core drillings and hope to start work next week,” Tharan said.

The tower project is being funded by CARES Act money.

Another row of offices will house the public safety department. A conference room will become the “war room” for countywide emergencies, and another three offices will be used as “breakout rooms”, according to Tharan.

The metal exterior wall in the rear of the warehouse has deteriorated at the ground level. Tharan said cement block would be laid to a height of four feet. Vehicle entry doors in the rear will either be closed in or replaced.

“It would have cost us a minimum of $1 to $3 million to build a new center and that is just for 911,” said Tharan. “Just across the road it would have cost $3.9 million just for a new center. We bought this for $14 a square foot. New construction would have been $150 to $200 a square foot.

Tharan said a major cost savings will be the labor cost. The five-man maintenance crew will provide much of the labor.

“We will save hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said. “We will be able to do the smaller electrical stuff but we will probably subcontract the larger work.”

The county is using part of the $3.5 million federal CARES Act grant for the work on the emergency center.

The warehouse will be home to the county’s maintenance department as well.

“They can use the shelves to store parts and supplies,” said Tharan. “The second floor storage could be used to store large purchases such as copy paper, toilet paper and hand sanitizer.”

Tharan said the county’s transportation authority is currently renting space and those vehicles could be moved to the Sorce site.

The acquisition of two parcels of property on the east side of the warehouse almost doubled the size of the property.

“We had to buy it because the property line ended at the exterior wall of the building,” said Tharan. “This way we can bring trucks in here. We didn’t want to lose this property and not be able to use the back of our own building. We are trying to think 10 to 15 years down the road.”

Tharan said “there is so much potential here. It is just astronomical.”

“We have a lot of work to do,” said John Stiglitz, head of the county’s maintenance department.