The other day someone asked about the history of a plain concrete block building located on county property in back of the old county jail on North Street in Elkton. As structures in an old town like this go, it is a nondescript building that doesn’t grab any special attention. But I promised to look into the records to see what the paper trail revealed.
In the middle of World War II, Elkton needed a building to serve as a center for Boy and Girl Scout activities. So troop leaders looked around and located some unused county land just off North Street in back of the jail. Representatives of the Kiwanis Club approached the commissioners in February 1942, asking permission to erect a one story with basement structure on the space and the county agreed. The Scout headquarters was dedicated on October 10, 1943.
In 1957 as the Cold War heated up the county needed a headquarters for its newly established Civil Defense Agency so the building was handed over to the disaster agency. as Director Ward noted that headquarters would be set up “in the former boy scout building near the jail . . . following completion of remodeling and repairs.” The operation grew as Russia exploded a Hydrogen Bomb and the nuclear arms race took off.
A year or two after that a county-wide CD radio system was installed to allow emergency officials to communicate with fire stations and responding units during a disaster. Each fire house had a base and 15 mobile units were installed on fire company vehicles. When the county created a planning department, it also shared space with CD
In October 1961, a 24-hour dispatch system went on the air, working out of the basement, to provide central radio control of equipment and CD operations. The disaster response office was also stacked with crates of supplies to be used to help residents survive a nuclear war.
In 1967 the dispatchers moved into a sub-basement below the newly opened courthouse addition and the building was used for live-in work-out prisoners to relieve the badly over-crowded jail. Once a modern Detention Center opened at the edge of Elkton later in the 1980s, county government used it for offices for the purchasing department and similar administrative functions.