Progress Edition

Benton County Commission: Improving facilities and services is the cornerstone of 2019

Benton County Mental Health Court graduation staff and community attendees (March 2018). Mental Health Court is funded entirely by the Public Safety Sales Tax.
Benton County Mental Health Court graduation staff and community attendees (March 2018). Mental Health Court is funded entirely by the Public Safety Sales Tax. Courtesy Benton County Commission

Enhancement and improvement of facilities and services are the cornerstone of Benton County’s 2019 goals.

In 2019, county residents will see significant enhancements to county facilities and services after many years of planning and preparation. These improvements wouldn’t be possible without the tireless effort of our county elected officials, managers and employees.

The new year brings exciting additions to Benton County public safety efforts. The county will continue to work with Benton County Emergency Services (BCES) and neighboring jurisdictions to plan and prepare for the construction of a new emergency communications tower on Red Mountain. This tower would eliminate gaps in radio coverage for law enforcement and emergency responders. Currently, $2 million has been allocated for site selection, construction and installation. This project will be paid for from the Public Safety Sales Tax.

The Gang & Crime Prevention Initiative, also funded by the Public Safety Tax, continues to partner with local non-profits and organizations to provide money to support local crime prevention programs. The county has committed over $2.6 million in 2019-2020 to 11 community programs to fund services for homeless teens, at-risk youth, victims of human trafficking and more.

In 2018, Benton County, in partnership with Franklin County, began seeking support from the Washington State Legislature to assist in funding capital improvements to the Benton-Franklin Juvenile Justice Center. These efforts have continued into 2019, with the goal to construct new administrative areas of the building, thus providing space for courtrooms, offices, and classrooms for educational and diversion programs.

This year also brings new buildings and upgrades to county services and facilities. Plans are in development to construct a new administration building, which would bring multiple county offices to one location, providing a one-stop-shop for the Assessor, Auditor, Treasurer, Human Resources and Commissioners offices and eliminating the public’s need to commute between multiple office locations to complete a task. The project is currently in the predesign phase. A full design will likely be completed by August of this year and construction will occur through 2020.

This same concept will be applied to a new Tri-Cities office for the Public Works, Planning, and Building Departments on Wiser Parkway in Kennewick. Combining these departments into one location in Kennewick and another in Prosser at the County courthouse will streamline county processes and increase efficiency to better serve the community. The project has been awarded for construction to a local contractor, Banlin Construction. The anticipated opening date is in September 2019.

Finally, the county plans to continue upgrading and enhancing the facilities at the Benton County Fairgrounds to serve a wide variety of community members, organizations and events. This year, Building 1 and its nearby restrooms are scheduled for limited improvements. After meeting with 4H organizations and other youth-related organizations, it became apparent that there is a need for an enclosed building that can show small livestock at an affordable rate. The restrooms will be completely demolished and replaced with a pre-fabricated structure designed for large event center use. That project and minor upgrades to Building 1 are to occur Summer 2019. The other upgrades will begin design this year and likely see construction after the annual fair or in early 2020.

For more information about these projects and others, visit our website at www.co.benton.wa.us.

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