08/03/09 — Move-in now complete for new county offices

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Move-in now complete for new county offices

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 3, 2009 1:46 PM

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Two patrons are assisted by Brenda Smith, an administrative assistant with the Wayne County Inspections Department, at the department's new location inside the renovated Jeffreys Building, the old Federal Building, at 134 N. John St. in Goldsboro.

For county Planning Director Connie Price and Inspections Director Steven Stroud, there is much to like about their departments' new homes in the renovated Jeffreys Building (the old Federal Building) at 134 N. John St., not the least of which is finally having an office with a window.

For the people who use the departments' services, it is the convenience of being able to park next to the building and to get in and out quickly. That means being able to avoid the congested parking lot at the county courthouse and the heavy foot traffic as well.

The planning, inspections and environmental health departments and human resources moved to their new quarters last month. The offices are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Environmental health, in-spections and planning are located on the third floor, while human resources is on the first. Emergency services, 911 and its general administration that have been in the building for some time remain on the second floor.

The renovations include a bay for a station for one of the county's 12-hour EMS units, a day area for rescue personnel and a training facility.

Work on the $853,000 project got under way last September and the county paid for the work with money that had been set aside in the budget over several years.

Public response has been positive, Price and Stroud said.

"I think that they like it because they can get in and out easier and park next to the building," Price said.

"We have been getting positive compliments from the public," Stroud added. "It seems to be working out better, and people can avoid the hustle and bustle of the courthouse."

Stroud said he also likes the layout in which offices for planning, inspections and environmental health are closer together. That, he said, is convenient for the public and staff alike.

The office space is about the same as the departments had at the courthouse. However, the offices are "nicer," because of the renovations, Price said.

"(The office) is within walking distance of the courthouse," he said.

However, he joked he might change his mind if he had to walk to the courthouse in the rain.

Also, employees will be able to continue to walk to downtown restaurants for lunch, he added.

The public, for the most part, is aware of the move, although Price said he had spoken to a woman over the weekend who said she did not know about the move and had gone to the courthouse.

People who do not normally use the inspections and planning departments or who use them only very rarely are the most likely ones to be unaware of the move, he said.

Contractors and others who regularly use planning and inspections are well aware of the move, he said.

"They have found us," Price said.

Stroud said he does not think it will take the public long to realize where the offices have moved.

"We have tried to let everybody know," he said.

The renovated building has a training room on the first floor that could be used for meetings. However, at present there are no plans for the Planning Board to meet there.

The board meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the county Administrative Building on South William Street. The room, where county commissioners used to meet, is set up better to hold the meetings, Price said.

"I don't foresee that (moving the meetings)," he said. "About every other year when the Board of Elections is using the room during elections we might have to, but that is only one out of 24 meetings that we might be over here."

Other than the packing and unpacking associated with any move there were no real issues, he said. Price said his department had lightened the move somewhat by purging documents and other items no longer needed prior to the move.

Stroud agreed that the move had gone smoothly.

About 3,000 square feet on the third floor of the county courthouse annex was freed up by the move. The space will be cleaned and painted. Other changes will include new security locks on some doors.

The vacated space will be divided among the district attorney and clerk of court's offices and judges, hence the need for new security.

The county's information technology department will move into the old law library.