LUMBERTON — It’s been a long time coming, but starting Monday the “one-stop shop” for some related county services will be open for business at the site of the old Department of Social Services complex on Caton Road.
Departments that will be operating out of the newly renovated facility include Planning and Zoning, Inspections and Environmental Health. There will also be a Tax Department employee who can help county residents needing tax assistance.
With the opening of the newly renovated facility, county residents will no longer have to go to separate locations to get building permits, handle some tax issues, and address environmental health concerns.
“The issue has been that services have been fragmented,” said Noah Woods, chairman of the county’s Board of Commissioners. “To build, repair and remodel you had to go here, and here, and here to get the permits needed. Now all of the agencies will be located in one building.”
County Manager Ricky Harris commended the commissioners for making a one-stop shop a priority.
“This was a great decision by the county commissioners to have a one-stop shop for Robeson County citizens,” he said. “It’s convenient. Citizens no longer have to go to more than one place to take care of business.”
Woods said Friday that the creation of a one-stop shop has been talked since for the 21 years he has been a commissioner.
“When this building and the (financial) resources became available, we finally got it done,” Woods said.
The re-opening of the building on Monday at 8:15 a.m. marks the first time business has been conducted at the site of the former DSS complex since April 2011, when DSS moved to its new building on N.C. 711 just west of the county Health Department. The former DSS complex had not met state space requirements for a number of years, forcing the construction of a new $17 million facility that was mostly paid for with state money.
The old DSS building is actually seven buildings cobbled together that were constructed between 1921 and 1989. The county departments moving into the facility will be housed on the first floor of the newest two-story addition that was built in 1989.
Harris said that renovations are also complete on the second floor of the building, but no decision has yet been made by the county commissioners on what should be done with that part of the building.
According to Harris, it would not be economical to renovate some of the older sections of the complex. These sections, including the area that once housed the county’s old cancer institute, will eventually be demolished, Harris said.
The opening of the one-stop shop is coming within one month of when county officials said the facility would be ready for use, said interim Assistant County Manager Charles Britt, the administrator overseeing the project. Britt also said that the project, except for about $68,000 extra needed for computer and telephone wiring, was done under the original budget of $200,000.
Harris said money was saved by having a lot of work done by county employees.
Renovations to the building include new carpeting, painting, new tiles for the acoustical ceiling, and roof work. Heating and air conditioning units also had to be replaced to ensure energy efficiency.
“They (residents of the county) will be happy with one-stop shopping,” Woods said. “Trust me.”
So are county employees.
“We are going to thoroughly enjoy working together under one roof,” Michelle Frizzell, the director of Zoning and Planning, said Friday. “We are already communicating well with each other.”
Although a date has not been set, a grand opening and open house for the one-stop shop will be held soon, Woods said.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 or email@example.com.