LUMBERTON — County officials on Wednesday said they chose the Department of Social Services as the place to plant a piece of the county’s legacy because it has provided needed assistance to county residents, and has helped the county make a positive impression on others across the state.
“We are known throughout the state of North Carolina as having the most beautiful building,” said Becky Morrow, director of the DSS. “Years ago, people used to look at us like, ‘you’re from Robeson County?,’ but now, we are the highlight of the state when we go to the meetings because we have done so much in our county here with DSS.”
Morrow spoke before a crowd of about 40 county workers and elected officials gathered in front of the DSS building before a time capsule was put into the ground near the entrance of the DSS building, set to be unearthed at the county’s 250th anniversary year, in 2037.
Included in the capsule are 33 documents and photos, including the county’s 2012-2013 budget and photos taken in a photo booth during the county’s recent 225th birthday celebration, both on CDs.
The capsule also includes pins from the towns of Pembroke, Rowland, Maxton, St. Pauls and Fairmont; the city of Lumberton; Robeson County; and the Robeson County Public Library. There were also a couple of editions of The Robesonian newspaper and the Pine Needle, the student newspaper at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. A pin and coin from the county’s 225th birthday celebration is also included.
Also on Wednesday, the county officially opened the “one-stop shop” at the site of the old Department of Social Services complex on Caton Road, which has been serving the Planning and Zoning, Inspections and Environmental Health departments since Oct. 1. About 50 people attended a brief ribbon-cutting with remarks by county commissioners, followed by refreshments.
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.
“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.”
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.”
The DSS moved on April 11 to its new $17 million building on N.C. 711, just west of the county Health Department.
Noah Woods, chairman of the county’s Board of Commissioners, said that the development of a facility where county residents can go to one location to get building permits, handle some tax issues and address environmental health concerns has been a priority for the 21 years he has been a commissioner.
““The issue has been that services have been fragmented,” Woods said. “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.”