DHR plans to expand to new building

Published 2:31 pm Friday, March 25, 2016

The Chilton County Department of Human Resources has outgrown its current building on Airport Road in Clanton and hopes to expand to a larger space.

“The building we are currently in is 32 years old,” Chilton County DHR Director Marilyn Colson said. “It has the same carpet that was originally put down, there are some renovations that need to be done, and we simply just don’t have the space anymore.”

A letter of intent from the Alabama Department of Human Resources regarding the construction of a building for Chilton County DHR was sent to members of the Chilton County Commission on March 3.

In the letter, Nancy T. Buckner, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Human Resources, said the department would like to negotiate an agreement with the Chilton County Commission to construct a building and lease it to DHR for use by the Chilton County Department of Human Resources.

Buckner outlines in the letter that the new building would be located in Clanton and the square footage of the building would be between 20,000-25,000 feet.

“The design and construction of the building will be financed through bonds issued by a public building authority established by Chilton County,” the letter states.

“The monthly lease payments will be in an amount sufficient to pay the principle and interest on the bonds. The initial lease term will be for the period of time necessary to repay the bonds. It will also include two five-year options to renew at the annual rental rate of $1 per square foot.”

Buckner said the land where the building will be constructed must be provided by the county free of charge, and she estimated that 3 to 5 acres would be needed for the building and parking lot.

“The county will be responsible for the removal of any debris or contamination from the property,” according to the letter. “There should also be utility connections available at the site.”

Commission Chairman Allen Caton said it is the county’s responsibility to furnish the land and make sure utilities are brought to the property.

“The land we are looking at, we already own and the utilities are already there,” Caton said. “The good thing about this is DHR needs more room, there will be more jobs created because of the expansion, and it is at no cost to the county. The county also gets the current building back, and we are able to use it for other departments.”

Colson said currently, the office has 40 employees and about 100 foster children that use the building for parents to visit their children.

“We also offer different things here such as food assistance, child support, family assistance and jobs,” Colson said. “There are a number of different programs. We just need a new building for space and having room for families to visit with their children. A new building would also provide a better place for our records because currently our file room doesn’t even have walls.”

Caton said the area where the building would be located is off Blacksnake Road.

“We own the pasture on the left side,” Caton said. “We are looking at putting it there so the building would stay in Clanton.”

Although Caton said it is difficult to estimate an exact timeline for when the new building could be constructed, it could be around the first part of 2017.

“We are definitely thrilled to have a new building,” Colson said. “We feel like this is a win for everyone because we get a new building with more room and the county needs more space so they get to use the old building.”