Elections Office makes its move
Exits old building for home on Walnut
by By Bob Shiles
LUMBERTON — It was moving day Tuesday for the Robeson County Board of Elections.
“It’s going very smoothly,” Tina Bledsoe, the board’s interim director, said as she and other members of her staff directed those carrying in boxes, file cabinets and other office equipment on where things should be placed. “We are going to have less storage space here, but there will be better security and more convenience for both staff and the public.”
The board’s offices, which have been housed for years in a deteriorating building on Elizabethtown Road that was once a church, are now located at 800 N. Walnut St. in downtown Lumberton. The county-owned building was most recently used by the Juvenile Courts system, which about a year ago moved most of its operations to the county’s old Department of Social Services complex on N.C. 711.
Currently, the board is sharing the county-owned building with the North Carolina Center for Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention. Some folks on Tuesday, however, said that they hope that someday the Board of Elections will have use of all the building.
Charles Britt, the county’s General Services manager, recently told The Robesonian that the new building contains seven or eight offices for use by Board of Elections staff. The courtroom area, he said, will be left intact and will be available for Board of Elections meetings and training sessions, as well as use by the Juvenile Courts one night a week.
Renovations to the building, according to Britt, are budgeted at $59,000 and most of the work has been done in-house by county employees. Improvements to the building have included painting; installation of new carpet and cleaning of old carpet; installation of a new phone system and new computer wiring; and replacement of air conditioning and heating units. A new alarm system has been installed and other security improvements have been made.
On Tuesday, county employees from the county’s Public Buildings and Parks and Recreation and Computer Operations departments, as well as employees working at the county landfill, assisted Board of Elections staff with the move into their new home.
Moving into the new offices continues today. Bledsoe said that it is still uncertain when new offices will be open for business.
“I’m hoping we will be moved in by the end of this week or by next week,” she said.
Until the move is complete, business will still be conducted from the board’s old office on Elizabethtown Road. Board staff can still be reached by phone at 910-671- 3080, Bledsoe said.
Although the fate of the old building on Elizabethtown Road is still uncertain, County Manager Ricky Harris, a former director of the Elections Board, has said that the building, which no longer meets code, will probably be demolished as part of the city of Lumberton’s plans to widen Water Street and enhance the intersection of Elizabethtown Road and Sixth and Water streets.
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