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DSS move benefits Bertie citizens

WINDSOR – Professional dress had to give way for the staff of Bertie County Social Services Thursday and Friday.

The members of the staff donned jeans and t-shirts as they pitched in to move into their new facility on Jasper Bazemore Lane in Windsor.

Morris Rascoe, the Department of Social Services (DSS) Director, said Thursday morning it would take two or three days, untold numbers of trips between Wayland Street (home of the old DSS building) and Jasper Bazemore Lane and a lot of work to get the staff moved.

Ah, but it was worth it.

“This building may not be perfect because when you build something, it never can be, but we’re proud of it,” Rascoe said. “We believe the citizens of the county will be pleased when they see it or come in.”

The most important part of the $3.1 million structure, however, is that it will help DSS provide better service to the citizens of Bertie County.

“I think better services can be offered to our clients because of the way the building is constructed,” Rascoe said.

The DSS director said each of the 53 employees in the department will have their own office where they will both see clients and do the paperwork that is necessary.

“In our old facility, they would have to move to an interview office and then go back and do paperwork,” he said. “Each of our offices in this building is designed to be able to seat at least two clients and the workers have a u-shaped desk to provide more work space.

“I think having individual offices will improve the quality of work and the quantity of work,” he said. “If you are in an area with five or six workers and one is on the telephone, you can’t help but be distracted.”

In addition to individual offices, the new facility has a meeting room that will seat all of the workers.

“This will be the first time I can hold a staff meeting with everybody,” Rascoe said. “Before, I would have to meet with each of the six units individually and we couldn’t get together as a group. Now we can.”

Another key component will be a classroom that is available for meetings and training.

“There are times when we are involved in training with Hertford and Martin counties and we would be the middle point,” Rascoe said. “Now we have a classroom where we can host that training and it will not interfere with serving our clients.”

Part of the design of the building is the classroom can be used by those who need it, including other departments in the county, without having to enter into the office portion of the building.

“The classroom has its own bathrooms, water fountain and small refrigerator so people can use that without any need to be in the back where records are kept,” Rascoe said.

The waiting room will hold up to 30 people at one time, but the classroom is located next to it and separated by a folding petition. If there was an emergency need, the classroom can be opened to allow more room for clients.

The new DSS building is a dream come true, Rascoe said. Discussions were launched several years ago about the need for a new building. That talk turned to action in 2006. It is funded by Bertie County, but both the federal and state governments will participate through indirect costs that are passed along.

An Open House is being planned for August 4 when the building will be dedicated, but the new facility will actually be open for use Monday.