11/8/2018 5:47:00 AM County Offices Will Be Moving New locations will provide easier access, space for future expansion
COUNTY BUILDINGS INVOLVED IN THE MOVE:
(Top Left) The current Planning & Inspections departments location at the intersection of N. Academy and E. Pine streets--the building will likely be sold after the moves are completed.
(Top Right) The James W. Warren Citizens Center on W. Main St.--several departments will remain there including Cooperative Extension on the ground floor; the Planning & Inspections departments will move to the third floor.
(Bottom Left) The former Lincoln County Schools Administration Building--since those offices have been moved to the former Battleground School location, the building will now be used for County Government Administration including the County Manager's office, Commissioners meeting facility, etc.
(Bottom Right) The former Garden Center on Salem Church Road--the Elections office will be moved there, providing much needed storage space, easier loading and unloading of elections equipment for elections, and more parking for Early Voting.
Wayne Howard Staff Writer
We might begin this article "once upon a time." Once upon a time, discussions that began with the need for updating Lincoln County's court facilities prompted discussion of a Government Center at the former Lincoln County Hospital location on Gamble Drive.
The plans changed a total of six times (or was it seven?) and the most recent plan now calls for a new courthouse--either on West Water Street or on Gamble Drive adjacent to the Health Department which now occupies the old hospital building.
Commissioners voted last month not to try to expand the current courthouse in its present location, a major task with the historic building and one that would likely make it look like a monstrosity occupying the Courtsquare from its northern edge to its southern edge. They left the decision on when and where to build a new courthouse up to the future Board of Commissioners.
The County made two purchases of buildings over the last two years that were intended to provide space for County departments. They bought the former R.B. Cronland Hardware & Garden Center on Salem Church Road, and then got a bargain price on a former medical building at Town & Country Shopping Center (adjacent to what was once the bowling lanes and is now used occasionally by an auction company).
The plans were--before the purchase of the shopping center building--to move Senior Services from the Lincoln campus of Gaston College (on the end adjacent to Academy Street) to the R.B. Cronland location.
Now, the County is about to open bids in early December for the renovation of the former medical building at the shopping center for it to become the new (and much improved) Senior Center.
Another somewhat unexpected event was the decision by the Lincoln County Schools to move their administrative offices from N. Generals Blvd. to the former Battleground School location. That move has occurred and the County now has the building on N. Generals Blvd. to use for other purposes.
County Manager Kelly Atkins and Purchasing Director John Henry outlined a bit of the history and then gave Commissioners a look at the new plans.
The County administration--County Manager's office, Clerk to the Commissioners, Commissioners meeting area, Finance office, Human Resources and Purchasing Agent will all move to the N. Generals Blvd. location. Advantages include easy access, ample parking, a much larger meeting room for Commissioners so they could accommodate larger public participation in their meetings, and ample space for growth that should meet needs for another 20 years.
The space the administrative offices will vacate at the James W. Warren Citizens Center will be used to move those County offices (Planning, Inspections, etc.) from their current location in the old school building that later served as a library at the intersection of N. Academy and E. Pine streets. That property will then--if Commissioners decide that way--be sold. During the transition, it will be used for storage while offices are moved.
Soil Conservation, Public Utilities, and Cooperative Extension will remain at the Citizens Center.
The Elections Office will be moved to the former Garden Center at the former R.B. Cronland property on Salem Church Road. Advantages include not only space that is already much needed, but being on a single floor--making it much easier to handle election preparations without having to go up and down on the elevator with voting equipment as is currently the case. The location also provides more parking for Early Voting.
Atkins and Henry estimated the cost of the various moves, renovations, etc. to be a little over $1.8 million. After the County sells the former Health Department Building on Wilma Sigmon Road and the building at the intersection of N. Academy and E. Pine streets, the net cost they estimated at a bit less than $700,000.
Commissioners, after watching the presentation, unanimously approved the moves.
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