02/21/08 — Jeffreys Building plans get go-ahead

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Jeffreys Building plans get go-ahead

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 21, 2008 1:46 PM

Nearly four years after the Wayne County Emergency Management Department and E-911 call center moved into the second floor of the Jeffreys Building on John Street, the Board of Commissioners has taken another step toward giving the go-ahead to begin the renovation of the first and third floors.

On Tuesday, the board gave county Emergency Management Director Joe Gurley and County Manager Lee Smith permission to bid out the project -- estimated to cost about $840,000 -- once Goldsboro officials give final approval to the site plans.

Then, once the renovations are complete in about eight months, Gurley explained, the county planning, inspections and environmental health departments will move into the third floor, while human resources and EMS Station Four will move into the first floor.

Currently, the four county departments are housed in the Wayne County Courthouse, while the EMS station is housed in the Goldsboro Fire Department on Center Street.

Smith explained that having all those offices on the third floor with a common waiting room will basically create a one-stop shop.

"I think it's real important to keep environmental health, planning and inspections together because they work so closely," he said.

And, he added, the move also will give human resources more room for employee training and other programs, as well as for storage.

More room also was the reason for moving the EMS station, Gurley explained, adding that the current canopy space will be closed in to create the new garage area.

"It's just trying to get us more organized," he said, adding that the move will not affect response times.

But the move isn't just good for the county.

Taking the place of the four departments at the courthouse will likely be much-needed office space for court officials.

It's a move and an expense that Smith defended, even as a new county office complex is included the county's newly proposed long-term capital improvement plan.

"We're trying to use and maximize what we have now," he said. "We're trying to free up space for as little as possible and I think this is a good way to do it."

Also approved Tuesday was the project ordinance to proceed with the construction of the new 500,000-gallon water tank at the ParkEast Industrial site.

The tank, which will later be turned over to Goldsboro for water storage and operation, will be funded by a $500,000 grant from the N.C. Rural Center, a $500,000 grant from the N.C. Department of Commerce and $125,000 from the county's general fund.

"As we moved in the last company, AAR, and its expansion and the expansion of several other businesses there .... We now need to more water pressure for the fire suppression systems, but that's only part of it," Smith said.

And finally, the commissioners agreed to send a letter urging the county's U.S. congressional delegation to approve the 2007 Farm Bill, based mostly on the N.C. Farm Bureau's similar request.

In particular, Smith and the commissioners expressed their concern about the future of farmland preservation -- and the need for urban cities and rural counties to work together.

"Without this protecting our farmland and our farmers, we're going to be in trouble," Smith said. "You need to have both (urban and rural areas), but the problem comes when you build out, you don't replace it. It's gone.

"We have to work with our urban planners to come up with a plan. Our farmers want a plan. And I think we in Wayne County can be a model for North Carolina."