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New Jackson County Resource Center moving forward

JACKSON -- Bidding for the new $2.5 million Jackson County Resource Center may begin in late April. The project will include office space for Human Services, and though no expansions are currently planned, architects left space on the north and s...

JACKSON -- Bidding for the new $2.5 million Jackson County Resource Center may begin in late April.

The project will include office space for Human Services, and though no expansions are currently planned, architects left space on the north and south sides of the 11,786-square-foot building for the future.

"It will meet the needs of Human Services. We've addressed the privacy and the security (issues). We've got room for a little bit of growth," said County Coordinator Janice Fransen. "They're not just building it for today, they're building it for the future."

The building is slightly over its $2.5 million budget, to the tune of $114,627.96. Part of that sum will be offset by $20,850 the city of Jackson agreed to pay in order to relocate the water main for the project.

Should Jackson County win the $25,000 bond the Jackson Preservation Alliance put up in the still-ongoing court proceedings regarding the old Resource Center, that money, too, would help offset the $114,627.96.

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"If we aren't within the budget after bids come in, we could maybe make some changes then. Instead of brick, (we could) go with a different type of exterior," Fransen said. "We're close enough we feel that we can go ahead and take it out to bid, because of the favorable bid climate."

Bids for other buildings have recently been coming in 5 to 20 percent lower than expected, Fransen explained.

The building cost more than originally planned because it is larger than originally planned. Designers included a link from Human Services to the 1962 building, and increased the size of the conference room.

There will be major advantages to the new building, compared with the old one, many of which revolve around increased security for clients and county personnel. Diagrams show several interview rooms in red, marked as "secured public spaces," with separate entrances for staff and the public. All the interview rooms will be heavily insulated, so no one can hear through the walls, and staff members will have multiple exits in case there are problems.

Near the reception area is a visitation room, so Human Services personnel can monitor visitations. The conference room and kitchenette can be used at night by the public, but the rest of the area can be separately secured. The building is fully handicapped-accessible and meets all requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The building will have better air quality and better workflow than the old Resource Center, Fransen said. The supervisors and directors have been placed in the middle of the building so they will be easily available to other staff members.

Most mechanical elements, including heating, ventilating and air conditioning, will be contained inside the building rather than on the roof, which will extend the life of the equipment.

"We've tried to make smart choices. Not expensive choices, but smart choices that will extend and make the best use of the county's dollars," Fransen said.

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