Kentucky cuts ribbon on new emergency operations center

Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Governor Steve Beshear joins Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, and state and local elected officials in cutting the ribbon on the new Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort, Ky., Oct. 21, 2013. The facility will act as the hub of operations for future emergency response throughout the state. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear joined Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, the adjutant general for the Kentucky National Guard and emergency management officials from across the state for a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Oct. 21, 2013.

The two-story, 26,150 square-foot facility replaces the former CEOC, built in the 1970s. The new building is constructed to withstand a variety of threats and weather conditions, including winds of up to 250 miles per hour.  It is also outfitted  with complete state-of-the-art communications technology to ensure rapid and efficient response during natural disasters and emergencies.

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Governor Steve Beshear speaks to a crowd gathered for the ribbon cutting for the new Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort, Ky., Oct. 21, 2013. Gov. Beshear called the facility a lifeline to all 120 counties in the state in their time of need. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Stephen Martin)

“This facility is a huge step toward bringing Kentucky’s emergency operations where it needs to be in the 21st  century,” said Gov. Beshear. “As nice as it is, this is more than a building, it’s the lifeline to all of Kentucky’s 120 counties in times of trouble.”

To see more photos from the ribbon cutting, click here.

Tonini called the CEOC a symbol of the commitment made to the people of the Commonwealth. He recalled stories from past floods and tornadoes that wreaked havoc across the state, with the emergency response coming from cramped rooms in an out-dated building.

Beshear and Tonini both complimented the emergency operations staff and first responders in attendance, calling them the reason why Kentucky is a national model for emergency management.

“I am very enthusiastic about this new Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center and the effect it will have on Kentucky’s ability to respond in the future,” said Tonini. “This state-of-the-art, nearly $12 million facility, with all of the latest gear and systems, with its media room and conference rooms and planning rooms, it’s not worth a nickel without our people.”

“Our emergency managers are among the best in the nation, and they have proven their worth time and time again,” said Gov. Beshear.

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Kentucky’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini explains to Governor Steve Beshear, features of the new Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort, Ky., Oct. 21, 2013. The tour followed the official ribbon cutting of the $11.8 million facility which took less than two years to complete. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

The new center is capable of supporting more than 200 personnel during a disaster response, including Kentucky Emergency Management, the Kentucky Guard, state and federal agencies and private partners.

A large crowd gathered in front of the new building for the ribbon cutting including state and local elected officials. One in attendance has first hand knowledge of the abilities of those who will work in the facility. Pendleton County Judge Executive Henry Bertram spoke of the day he awoke to a completely flooded city in 1997.  The rising waters of the Licking River devastated his county and surrounding areas.  He contributed the resilience of the people affected to the work of Gov. Beshear and the agencies that will call the CEOC home.

“This place is a tool to give people the opportunity to put their community back together after a natural disaster,” he said. “The only reason we got back to our lives, was the people with emergency management.”

The new CEOC, funded at $11.8 million, was completed on time and at approximately $400,000 under budget.  Nearly $10 million of the funding came from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program. The Kentucky Department of Military Affairs and Office of Homeland Security provided the remainder.