Job and Family Services relocation approved

The first phase of a move of Washington County Job and Family Services employees to 204 Davis Ave. is expected in the next couple of weeks.

A unanimous vote during the commissioner’s April 11 meeting approved the start of a multi-phased plan that will consolidate the recently merged Job and Family Services and Children Services into 204 Davis Ave. The other option presented to the commissioners was to move all of Job and Family Services to 1115 Gilman Ave. An estimate done by Pickering Associates, an engineering and architectural firm based in Parkersburg, showed renovations required to house the larger agency at Gilman Ave would cost $323,000. The firm’s estimate for the Davis Avenue location’s renovations came in with a price tag of just over $400,000.

Flite Freimann, the plan’s architect and director of Job and Family Services, said the first phase of the move will begin almost immediately.

“JFS will begin relocating (to 204 Davis Ave.) in the next two weeks or so,” he said.

Freimann said consolidation will begin with Adult Protective Services leaving 1115 Gilman Ave. to move to its new home on Davis Avenue. Freimann said he anticipated all other family services to include food assistance, medicaid and child care to be housed at 204 Davis Ave. by the end of 2019.

Washington County Commission President David White said his board will be forced to move as the influx of Job and Family Services employees transition to Davis Avenue, but not in the immediate future. He said he sees the commissioners ultimately moving to the Gilman Avenue location by the end of the summer.

“We’re still not sure if it will be a temporary or a permanent move yet,” he said.

Freimann said the commissioners aren’t the only organization in the county that is considering 1115 Gilman Ave. as a potential new home. He said the Washington County Health Department and the Board of Behavioral Health will both be looking at Gilman Avenue in the coming weeks in order to determine whether or not the site will be compatible with the needs of their organizations.

The OSU Extension Office and Family and Children First may also move to Gilman Avenue when Freimann’s next phase of the multi-departmental move takes affect. Freimann said the two offices will need to move from their current location at 202 Davis Ave. in order to make room for the Washington County Board of Elections after the 2020 presidential election. Freimann said the board would have to move from their current home at 204 Davis Ave. in order to facilitate his agency in a single location.

Mandy Amos, director of the board of elections, said 202 Davis Ave. has a few problems, but still looked to be a good preliminary choice for the new home of her agency.

“They’ve had a little bit of trouble with moisture,” she said.

Amos said the board requires a humidity controlled area that will keep paper ballots from being damaged when stored and to expand the size of the smaller office areas in the building.

“That could all be handled during a renovation,” she said.

Even though the move of several departments in the county is causing logistical hardships, Freimann said the ability of the county to gain more federal dollars and improve services by having like agencies housed in a single building will benefit all.

“It’s the right thing for the county,” he said.

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