03/06/18 — Fate of the Wayne Center

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Fate of the Wayne Center

By Rochelle Moore
Published in News on March 6, 2018 5:50 AM

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Tony Jackson reviews paperwork in the Hurricane Matthew Housing Recovery Application Center that has recently moved into a vacant portion of the Wayne Center.

The Wayne County Center has served as the main hub for agricultural-related services, 4-H programs and other community activities for decades.

The opening of the new state-of-the-art Maxwell Regional Agricultural and Convention Center has opened the door for several agencies to operate from a centrally located facility on Wayne Memorial Drive.

Offices for the Wayne County Cooperative Extension Service, county Soil and Water Conservation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency recently moved from the Wayne County Center to the Maxwell Center, in its eastern wing.

The move is timely, since areas of the Wayne County Center, on Chestnut Street, have been aging, with ongoing problems of a leaking roof, said Kevin Johnson, Wayne County Cooperative Extension Services director.

"It's just been getting progressively worse to the point that we've been playing musical offices up here, and we've abandoned offices and we're sharing offices," Johnson said.

"These buildings have not been good buildings for a long time. It's gotten really bad, but we always knew in our mind that we were going somewhere else."

The Maxwell Center will provide more office, meeting and event space for the agencies, as well as area 4-H programs, agricultural education and family and consumer sciences programs.

"We needed a new facility and we've been here a long time," Johnson said of the center, which opened in 1959. "Soil and Water had a tiny office in the basement and they've been there 60 years. (They outgrew) their space 20 years ago.

"We needed a new facility. We're excited about the new opportunity."

The Wayne Center is eventually planned for demolition, but a portion of the building is being used as the Hurricane Matthew Housing Recovery Application Center, said Craig Honeycutt, Wayne County manager.

The recovery center will be located at the Wayne Center for the next six months to a year and was recently moved from the Wayne County Veterans Services building on Ash Street, Honeycutt said.

The portion of the Wayne Center that is being used for the hurricane recovery efforts is in the kitchen area. The area was constructed in the 1980s, Johnson said.

The USDA Farm Services Agency building, located alongside the Wayne County Center on Spruce Street, may be a future site for the Wayne County Department of Social Services, Honeycutt said. The building was constructed in the mid-1970s, Johnson said.

"We feel like it has some value to the county," Honeycutt said. "We're looking at the possibility of DSS."