Last updated: March 06. 2014 3:08PM - 854 Views
By - cberendt@civitasmedia.com

Chris Berendt/Sampson IndependentCounty manager Ed Causey talks about local probation officers' need for more space. Moving them to a building on the County Complex will cost $14,000, which the Board of Commissioners approved spending this week.
Chris Berendt/Sampson IndependentCounty manager Ed Causey talks about local probation officers' need for more space. Moving them to a building on the County Complex will cost $14,000, which the Board of Commissioners approved spending this week.
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It will cost the county about $14,000 to make the necessary preparations to vacant office space at the County Complex soon to be housed by three probation officers.

The Sampson Board of Commissioners this week authorized using $15,000 in contingency funds to make necessary improvements to the space in preparation for Probation’s location there, an amount county manager Ed Causey said would give provide a $1,000 cushion should estimates for plumbing, wiring and other construction come in higher than expected.

In early February, the county was notified by the N.C. Department of Public Safety’s Community Supervision Division about their need for three additional office spaces for probation officers, having recently received an additional judicial service coordinator and probation officer. The county is required to provide office space for N.C. Probation personnel.

Currently, Probation has space for 16 of their 18 officers at the courthouse, but one office space at the annex will no longer be available as it will be required for courthouse security improvements, Causey said. He identified space available on the County Complex — a modular unit attached to the Inspections Office, where eight offices are used for storage by the Inspections and Recreation departments.

County staff subsequently met with Judicial District Manager Paige Wade to discuss how the space could be improved to accommodate the particular needs of the probation officers. Those needs included a restroom for officers to conduct drug screens on offenders, along with furniture, wiring for telephone systems and adequate space for copy/fax services and file storage.

The matter was considered last month, at which time staff said they would come back with cost estimates.

“It’s not as simple as just adding a restroom,” Public Works director Lee Cannady said this week. “You have to have a building contractor, a roofing contractor, a mechanical contractor and an electrical contractor. We’ve looked at everything we can to hold costs.”

Cannady noted last month that it could take as much as $15,000-$20,000 to install a bathroom, with necessary plumbing, hot water and related fixtures.

“I’m not sure it isn’t going to be pretty close to that ($15,000) figure when we get through,” said the public works director, who has noted the space is not prepared for plumbing at all. “The plumbing portion is about $6,500.”

Staff will be doing the electrical work. Other expenses, including some roofing and interior work ,would put the total at $9,500.

“That’s the best I could do,” he said. “That’s using all energy-efficient stuff. We looked at the possibility of using some (materials) out of the old County Home, but by the time you factor in the cost savings and energy efficiency, you’re better off installing new fixtures.”

Information Technology director Chris Rayner said the wiring would cost an additional $4,500.

“In order to retrofit the building for Probation, two data jacks and two voice jacks have to be put at each location,” he stated. “Whether they are used or not, the jacks have to be there.”

A contractor will do all the wiring, which has to be certified through the state. The county toyed with the idea of using its own workers to mitigate some of the costs, but contractors would be needed to ensure all state requirements were met.

“The previous wiring utilized in that building was not up to state code,” Rayner remarked.

The modular unit was added on years back when the Department of Social Services needed additional space. and Causey pointed to those offices as really the only space left. Wade initially proposed using that entire building.

The county manager said three offices could be used and a bathroom developed to fulfill the immediate need, but the rest of the building had to be utilized currently as storage.

“We would prefer not to split a Probation Unit up and move only three Probation officers to the office space at the County Complex,” Wade stated last month. “This presents a safety concern for those three officers as well as a disconnect from the supervisor and the other officers.”

While the space is not ideal, Wade has accepted the office space as offered with improvements, Causey noted this week.

The vote to spend $15,000 to renovate the building for Probation was unanimous.

Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at cberendt@civitasmedia.com.

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