City and county officials, as well as other state and local representatives officially broke ground for the new 10,292 square foot Department of Family and Children’s Services and Department of Juvenile Justice building Monday behind the health department in Pembroke.
The property, once a farm owned by Lucious Garrison which housed a grits mill, now boasts multiple subdivisions, a park, a doctor’s office, post office, health office and a forest service, and has produced a wonderful, model development, First District County Commissioner Ed Bacon said.
"It’s been a long process that started about 8 years ago, but this building that we are about to start in a few days is quite an accomplishment to come to our fair city," he said.
Bryan County DFCS Director Stanley Walthour thanked the public for waiting.
"I appreciate the patience of everybody here in Bryan County," he said. "We are in a building right now that is sort-of patched together because it’s been there so long; it meets our needs, but there’s a lot that this new building is going to bring us up to technologically and aesthetically:
"Anytime you get something new you’re happy, just like a kid with a new toy, so it’s like this is our new toy. We are so happy to have it, and so happy the county chose to allow us to have it. It means a lot," he said.
Patricia Merritt, manager of the Department of Juvenile Justice in Bryan County, said the new building will help in more ways than one.
"It will give us a lot more space and ability to meet easily with the DFCS staff because we are in communication with them frequently," she said. "It will be a win-win for us and the families here in Bryan County because we will be on site and can easily talk about cases and collaborate. We are excited about it. We think it’s a great resource for the community.""I appreciate having the Department of Juvenile Justice join us in the building so much because it strengthens the camaraderie between the two agencies, and it’s going to make us a stronger force in the community," Walthour said.
"This will be a great asset not only to the community, but a great and much needed service to our people," Pembroke Mayor Judy Cook said.
According to Bacon, a staff of approximately 22 will be able to move into the new $1.3 million facility in spring 2009.
Phil Jones, county administrator, said the area in front of the DJJ entrance will be a park, and there will be additional parking in the rear as well as the area between the health building and new one.
Even with the new Pembroke DFCS building, Richmond Hill will continue to maintain a separate office and is also getting a new office to be located at the rear of the county administrative complex, though it will be smaller than the office in Pembroke, Walthour said.
"Because of the dynamics of Bryan County and the way it’s configured, the fact that you have to leave the county to get to the other side of it about 30 miles away, and you’ve got clients that can’t financially afford to come from one side to the other, it’s going to be easier to maintain both offices," he said.