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County works through project list

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POSTED: March 13, 2007 5:15 a.m.
The Liberty County Commission is working through a laundry list of projects for 2007, including using the now-vacant site of Liberty County’s old hospital for a new Department of Family and Children Services.
The new facility would house all of the DFCS functions. The site on Highway 84 at Fraser Street and the building would be about 37,262 sq. ft. in size. The total building cost is about $7.3 million.
The county is requesting an appropriation increase to the state DHR’s budget of $256,664 per year. This would provide increased rent to help cover the capital debt over 20 years.
County Administrator Joey Brown said the county is studying a public-private partnership to build the new facility with no liability to the county, except furnishing the land.
“Several other counties have used the public-private partnerships,” Brown said.
Other matters discussed by the commissioners during their planning session at Savannah Tech’s Liberty County campus included:
• Master fire plan — This plan would establish a foundation for providing fire and rescue services countywide. With a goal of lowering ISO ratings, it would work closely in concert with the comprehensive land plan to examine where growth is projected and insure that fire protection equipment and facilities are in place to accommodate it. The commissioners are expected to hire a consulting firm to complete the plan.
• Community complex — This complex is the site of the old Liberty Elementary School. Buckley and Associates architects have completed a projected construction budget for the facility.
The site currently houses the Midway City Hall and will be the new home of the Midway/Riceboro Library. In addition, the complex will provide a historic tourism location for the Liberty Trail, recreation and consolidated services for east end residents.
The first phase, valued at $3.7 million, will demolish some existing structures and renovate others to accommodate the library. The commission is considering issuing revenue anticipation bonds to pay for the first phase.
• Expansion of higher education opportunities — The commission received a proposal from Armstrong Atlantic State University to join with the school board, city of Hinesville, and development authority to buy the building that now houses the campus.
The proposal calls for a $4.5 million investment funded by these partners, Armstrong, and some income from rental of parts of the facility.
The commissioners support the idea of expanding opportunities for higher education and praised Armstrong for its work in the county.  
But there was some concern  about the size of the site and whether it could adaquately accommodate future expansion.
 

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