New roof OK’d forflooded county building

The Sampson Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a low bid of $180,299 for a new roof at the old DSS building, which currently houses Aging, Parks and Recreation, Inspections and Environmental Health.

A county building that has regularly been underwater during and after storms is in line for a new roof, something county officials called “an immediate and critical” need.

At a special meeting Wednesday, the Sampson County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a low bid of $180,299, to be paid for from leftover capital project funds previously set aside for County Complex improvements. County manager Ed Causey and Public Works Director Lee Cannady discussed the need to replace the roof of the old DSS building, which now houses several county departments, including Aging, Parks and Recreation, Inspections and Environmental Health.

Causey deemed it a “significant problem.”

“We literally have water pouring into the building,” the county manager stated.

Causey said the issue was discussed two years ago and funds included in the 2013-14 budget to cover the roof replacement, however those funds were ultimately eliminated from the plan as part of budget cuts. Last year, $80,000 was included for repairs, but again that was backburnered in lieu of the County Home funds, in hopes there would be some money left over following that demolition and clearing project.

After a bid for that project came in much lower than expected, county officials still had $219,611 remaining of those County Complex improvement funds to use. Causey said the old DSS building’s problems had been on the radar for some time, but with the capital funds available and the roof getting worse with each rain — there was another big one earlier this week that resulted in hours of cleanup — now is the time, he said.

“Water was pouring through the building like water through a sieve,” said Causey. “We knew we had a major problem over there and we knew we had to do something. We just let it get to critical mass proportions in the last 30 days without taking some prior action.”

Sampson County Public Works Lee Cannady said the existing building was built in 1969 and the structure added onto twice in the 1970s. It is an old building and county officials have done everything they can to extend the lifespan of that structure via patchwork, Cannady said, but that will no longer suffice.

“Back in 2010, we did a nice rehab and tried to buy some time,” the Public Works director said. “We were going to try to include (major repairs) in the budget and we did, then it was jerked out. Then we added it again last year just to do temporary (repairs) but now we’re to the point where temporary won’t work. We’re to the point now where it is in dire straits.”

In November 2014, the county formally bid the roof replacement project, receiving three bids, BIRS Inc. of Greensboro being the lowest at $180,299. Cannady confirmed with the contractor this week that the bid was still valid. If all that money is expended, it would still leave the county with $39,312 for improvements.

“Forty-five years for the existing roof is pretty good life for a roof,” Cannady said. “We’ve milked that to death. We’ve made this thing about as bad as it can be. There’s nothing else we can do.”

Commissioners agreed that the issue needed to be resolved.

“To the extent that it is leaking now,” Commissioner Albert Kirby, “I’m not sure we have much of a choice.”

“At this point, I’m not sure leaking is the right term,” Causey answered.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board approved:

• Tabling a request by Greensbridge Golf Course for approval of ABC permitting documents that will allow the facility to serve malt beverages on premises. The board will discuss the issue again on June 15 following a 6 p.m. budget public hearing.

• A request by Duke Energy to increase its easement along the Sampson County owned property at the Exit 355 industrial site, where construction for the Enviva pellet plant project is ongoing. The conditional approval would extend the easement an additional 25 feet on each side of Duke Energy’s power line.

• Two grant agreements at the request of the Airport Authority for airport improvement projects — one to design and bid the construction of an access road and improve drainage in the road access area, and the second for the design and construction of hangars on airport property. For each project, the county is only required to pay 5 percent of the total cost, which would mean $4,854 apiece for the city and county in return for one grant totaling $87,363, and $2,962 each for another totaling $53,320. Matching funds will be provided from those previously reserved for airport improvements.

• Fire district tax requests, which included half-cent tax increases for Clinton and Franklin districts.