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Old DSS building to host offices again

JACKSON – Public Works Director Kirk Rogers presented an update to the Northampton Commissioners here Feb. 18 during their regular work session meeting. The information regarded the renovation work being done to the old Department of Social Services (DSS) building.

The building, which previously housed the DSS workers, has been vacant since that department moved into a new building constructed for them in 2014. The old building, however, will soon be ready to host the County Manager’s office, Finance office, and Veteran’s office.

Kirk explained the renovation work included floor and wall repairs, roofing repairs, installation of CAT5 internet/phone cable, and more. He reported the costs for the work—which included moving expenses—to total more than $90,000.

His presentation detailed the Public Works Department’s efforts to remove old stained carpet and to fix ceiling damage due to leaks. Rogers also explained how they installed the new IT rack and added a new wall to create separate offices for the County Manager and the Clerk to the Board.

“We still have a few items left,” he added.

Rogers stated their goal was to begin moving on Feb. 26 and have everything settled into the new offices by Feb. 28. But he stressed those dates were tentative.

“It’s close to 3500 square feet of office space. It’s a very nice building,” he concluded.

The Board did not have any questions for Rogers, but Chairman Charles Tyner spoke briefly to clarify things for citizens unaware of the moving plans.

The buildings which previously housed the County Manager and Finance departments are located by the County courthouse in downtown Jackson. Tyner said there was “mold and a lot of other things” in the old buildings.

“So we’re moving it all to the social services building,” he explained. “A building that belonged to us that we were not using.”

Tyner said the move would also save the county some money since they were currently also renting some office space in downtown Jackson that would be unnecessary after the move.

The Board Chairman also noted the new location for Commissioners meetings. The Feb. 18 meeting was the first to be held in the J.W. Faison Center Auditorium. The stage where the Commissioners will sit was still under construction, but is expected to be complete by the next regular meeting which will be held on Monday, Mar. 4. The auditorium will still continue to be utilized for other events and meetings unrelated to the Commissioners.

Tyner noted this move would be beneficial for the Commissioners because of the additional space for people to attend meetings and a closer proximity to the new County Manager’s office location.

“What we’re trying to do is save us every dime we can so that we can do some more things,” Tyner concluded.

According to previous reports by the News Herald, the old DSS building was vacated due to lack of space for the large department as well as issues with things such as mice and mildew. The idea to move DSS to a new office space was first proposed in 2010 but the new building—which came with a $6.9 million price tag—was not completed until 2014.

In early 2017, the Board of Commissioners voted to spend over $2 million to remodel and refurbish the old building to use as office space. During that vote, Tyner and Commissioner Geneva Faulkner cast the only dissenting votes against that decision. At the time, Tyner said the newest portion of the building was useable, but the rest of the building did not warrant the renovation price tag.