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New community complex and fire station coming to Bay County

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FOUNTAIN, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – After a category five hurricane, tornadoes, and wildfires, local leaders said they knew more safety measures needed to be taken for when disaster strikes again, especially for those in the more rural parts of Bay County.

When disaster strikes, as it has before, there’s a much-needed resource the city of Fountain doesn’t have.

“Everybody needs a good shelter and community center is needed everywhere and everybody needs a safe place to go,” Fountain resident Steven Swearengin said.

Earlier this month, Bay County leaders showed off the design plans for a massive project featuring what will be the Fountain Community Complex, a hardened structure with enough room for a sheriff’s substation, and a brand-new fire station.

County leaders said the roughly $10 million project will be a critical resource in cases of emergency.

“What we discovered after the hurricane, you know, we always need a place to stage people, you need sheltering. This community center will allow us to stage personnel up there, whether it’s first responders, whether it’s utility linemen or personnel to stage materials. The community if there’s a tornado watch or anything of that nature, we’ll be able to house people up there during any kind of disaster,” Bay County Commissioner Robert Carroll said. “And then post-disaster, we have meeting rooms, having a sheriff’s substation is going to be really nice at that end of the county. And also the fire station provides more fire protection in that area. As you noticed from the wildfires, we need all the protection that we can get.”

Sitting right off State Road 20, most will recognize the location as where the rodeo is. Officials said they do plan to keep there.

“Trying to minimize any impacts to that. We want to make sure that it is a community center for all it’s not just for the meeting location but also for the rodeo. I mean, everybody has a different function in life, you know, whether it’s fishing or rodeo and just want to make sure that it’s a good community center for all to come, kids to play out and playground. So it is definitely for the community,” Carroll said.

It will be for the community in many more ways as well.

“If you want to go up there and meet or want to get updates from the commissioners, we can come here and meet up there. It’s also going to work as a great polling location for voting,” Carroll said.

The project is mainly being paid for with a more than $9 million Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery. The county will be using less than $1 million of its own money to match the funds.

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