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New DHR building scheduled for February 2020

The timetable to construct a new building to house the Chilton County Department of Human Resources has begun following a groundbreaking ceremony on Feb. 22.

The building will be located on Health Center Drive directly across from the Chilton County Health Department.

Estimated completion of the project is scheduled for February 2020.

According to Alabama DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner, the process of working things out with the county and searching for a site has been going on for about three years.

“It takes awhile, because DHR cannot actually own buildings according to the law, so we go through counties and city governments to get them to help us,” Buckner said. “It’s a win-win for both of us.”

The county donated the land, and DHR leased the building to pay back bonds sold by the building authority. The rental payments will be equivalent to the bond payments.

Once the bond is paid, the building will belong to the county.

“We have a clause in there that [states] we can do some renewals at $1 per square foot, which makes it a great win for us over the whole life of the lease,” Buckner said.

The reason behind the interest of the move was to due to DHR having outgrown its current building.

“The county has grown and so have DHR’s duties and responsibilities because of that,” Buckner said.

DHR currently has roughly 40 members on staff but will have the option to hire more with a larger working area that better suits the needs that exist.

“It’s a needs-based employment issue, and that drove the need for the bigger building,” Commission chairman Joseph Parnell said.

A driving force behind the move was DHR director Marilyn Colson, who initially presented the department’s need for a bigger space and had an influential hand in each step along the way.

The first step taken by the Chilton County Commission was the creation of a building authority, which was started up by then-Chairman Allen Caton.

Selecting a site that would work well was the next step, which took some researching before finding the eventual right fit in property owned by the county medical board.

“We wanted something that we already owned,” Caton said.

According to Parnell, the current DHR building will be repurposed by the county as soon as the move to the new location is made.