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Jackson Human Services has new home

ana anthony/daily globe Department of Human Services will begin relocating to the new Jackson County Government Center Feb. 24.

JACKSON -- Jackson County Department of Human Services will be moving into a new office for the second time in less than two years.

The newly constructed government center -- an extension from the county resource center -- will house the human services office.

At 11,730 square feet, the government center will accommodate all 31 employees from the department of human services.

"The building has improved privacy, accessibility, security and efficiency for the public," said Jackson County Coordinator Jan Fransen.

Two receptionist counters and a play area surround the lobby of the facility. Aligned to the left of the building are five visitation rooms -- with two built slightly larger than the other three.

In addition to the front entrance of the rooms, each room opens into the main office area with use of proximity cards. The rooms were constructed with double walls for privacy purposes.

"They will be equipped with desks, computer terminals and printers," Fransen added.

Construction of the adjoining structure began June 23, 2011, and was scheduled for completion Jan. 16.

The $2.5 million project reached substantial completion 10 days after the estimated date of completion, said project superintendent Sam Lauer of Contegrity Group Inc.

A kitchenette and a large conference room are located to the right of the entrance.

Lauer explained the building has energy efficient features including zoned motion sensor lights and an automated boiler system.

Energy savings can also be derived from the dual stage lighting control which allows for brightness control, he said.

The automated boiler system, Lauer said is completely different from older models.

"If the building isn't heating -- especially in the spring or fall when we have cold mornings and warmer days -- it doesn't kick on coolers," he said. "The building draws in fresh air to try to cool itself.

Fransen added that temperature control had been a challenge in the older buildings.

Work for a new parking lot will begin in the spring to add 31 stalls.

The county highway department will be assisting in the project.

Moving will be conducted in two phases with the first phase beginning Feb. 24., and the next, March 2.

Office staff relocated from the current Bank Midwest location to the county resource center in November 2010. Earlier that year, the Jackson County Board proposed a new building to accommodate the department of human services along with several county departments due to space limitations.

A reverse referendum halted the plan, Fransen said. The new government center is funded completely by county reserves.

According to the Jackson County Department of Human Services, there has been an increase in applications for medical assistance and food support. Also on the rise are the numbers of chemical dependency, mental health and child protection cases.

The county has been exploring the possibility of merging the human services department with Cottonwood County, but Fransen stressed the department "will not go away from Jackson County."

The new government center is located at 407 Fifth Street. Services will be limited from Feb. 24 to March 2.

Daily Globe Reporter Ana Anthony can be reached at 376-7321