Less than two weeks before its new building will be in operation, Liberty County Division of Family and Children Services board members toured the site Wednesday along with state Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway.
The department will be closed Friday, April 27, for the move, but director Debbie Bennett said the office will reopen Monday, April 30, at 112 W. Oglethorpe Highway in Hinesville.
The facility was constructed on the former Liberty Regional Medical Center site, and county officials plan to build a new Liberty County Health Department office on the same campus in the future.
During the tour, Bennett said she anticipates the new space will boost morale among her 45-employee staff.
“What a lot of people don’t understand in Georgia, and they call themselves irate taxpayers, is that if you have a building like this that provides a service, it is vitally important that the morale of the staff be good,” Williams said. “So you’ve got to have a break room that’s decent and a nice environment to work in, because staff morale is everything.”
In their current quarters on North Main Street, employees do not even have a break room, board Chairman John Henderson said.
At the site groundbreaking in July, officials said the building would be 22,690 square feet, but J.K. Lockwood Construction Company superintendent John Waters said Wednesday that the building is 26,500 square feet and contains an estimated 80 offices.
The building also is equipped with two conference rooms, a break room, children’s viewing rooms, space for family transitioning and several records rooms.
The division’s two departments, the Office of Family Independence, which handles eligibility programs, and Child Welfare social services, each will occupy about one end of the building, which was designed by Duluth-based Hill, Foley, Rossi and Associates architects. Digital access control points on both internal and external doors and an alarm are among the security features.
Bank of America is financing the $4.8 million 20-year mortgage on the building. The state Division of Family and Children Services will rent the space on a year-by-year basis, with the intention of renting long-term.