Health department unveils plans for new building

Monday, February 6, 2006

During its montly meeting last Thursday evening, the Saline County Health Department Board of Directors reviewed plans for a new building that would be the department's third home in the last few years but the first facility designed with its needs as the focus.

Gayle Thomas, department administrator, presented board members and those present with copies of floor plans for a two-level building that is planned for a four-acre tract in southwest Marshall along Atchison Avenue.

The floor plans, prepared by Darla Arni, a consultant to the department, call for a building with a little more than 8,000 square feet on each level. The lower level would be of a walk-out design, taking advantage of the slope on the tract.

Thomas told the board she and other representatives from the department had made a second trip to Miller County in January to view that county health department's new building. Thomas and Susan Vogelsmeier, an F.N.P. with the department, had reported to the board in January that they were impressed during a visit to the building between Eldon and Tuscumbia.

Thomas said that by the time of the second visit, the interior of the building was also done and the Saline County reps were able to get many ideas about things they wanted to do -- and avoid -- in their new building.

As proposed, the upper level of the new health department building would include reception space, waiting rooms, exam rooms and offices for department employees.

On the lower level would be a community conference center, storage space for both the health department and other organizations making use of National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources (NAIER) materials along with room for an emergency operations center and possibly an emergency operations director.

In one corner of the lower level, 600-plus square feet was alotted for a countywide 911 dispatching service including an administrator's office, dispatching room and room for equipment. Thomas said it is no secret that the department has expressed a willingness to cooperate and assist with countywide 911 if a ballot issue to pay for the service passes.

The new Miller County facility cost $1.3 million for about 11,000 square feet, Thomas reported, but she said one of the two contractors the office has had extended discussions with felt the plans presented for Saline County's building could be built for $1.3 million or possibly a little less.

After discussion, the board approved without dissent a motion to ask both construction companies for a "letter of proposal" that would outline specifications to be used when putting the project up for bids.

Board President Stephen Allegri explained that doing so would save the board the considerable expense of hiring an architect and/or an engineer to come up with the building specifications.

No time table was set for the construction or for letting bids.

Contact Mark Lile at

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