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Halfway there

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Renovation of new FCHD home moving along

By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

The renovation of the building that will be the new home of the Fayette County Health Department is about 50-percent completed, and the cost of the renovation is running close to projections.

The health department plans to begin moving about half a block east, to the former home of Leo Brown Lumber, in a little more than two months.

The renovation of the 11,500-square-foot building is scheduled for completion in the first week of February, about five months after it was started. The new FCHD property also includes two outbuildings on a 2.25-acre lot in the 400 block of West Edwards Street.

The Fayette County Board of Health purchased that property in the fall of 2008 after the Illinois Attorney General told the health department that it needed to either make substantial renovations to its current home or move to a find a new home.

The AG’s Office told the board of health that there are “a lot of issues” with that building, FCHD Administrator Rhonda Andrews said in August.

The biggest of those issues is that it is not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. At one point, Andrews said, the AG’s Office told the health department that it would have to install an elevator.

The 7,200-square-foot structure serving as the main base of operations for the health department, located at 509 W. Edwards St. in Vandalia was a residence before being purchased by the county board of health in 1986. A number of renovations have been made to the building since that time.

While the family and clinical services, and environmental health operate out of that building, the FCHD is paying rent and utilities for a building at 120 N. Fifth St. in Vandalia that houses its home care division, which includes home health and hospice.

Andrews said that the board of health chose to look for a new home after learning that the cost of rehabilitating the current home would be close to the purchase price of another building.

FCHD Administrator Rhonda Andrews conducted a walk-through of the building recently for the members of the Fayette County Board’s health and TB committee – Jean Finley, Steve Knebel and Wade Wilhour – and area media.

By the third week of November, the exterior work to be completed includes a new roof, parking lot, brick and stucco siding, columns, entry, windows, concrete footings and sidewalks.

All interior walls had been set and drywall work completed. Interior painting and electrical work is scheduled to begin early this month.

Johannes Construction of Centralia, with a bid of $1.26-million, was selected as the general contractor in August.

The FCHD project has also included the demolition of two dilapidated outbuildings on the property. Grubaugh Contracting of Vandalia performed that work.

Andrews said that to date, change orders for the project have been “minimal,” .012 percent of the project cost.

The move to the new home will provide a number of benefits, Andrews said.

“For one thing, we will have everything on one floor,” she said.

It also brings all health department employees back together in one building and allows the FCHD to provide all services out of one location. That means no more paying rent and utilities for a second building.

The new building will also “expand the service offering to Fayette County residents without increasing the cost of services,” she said, adding that the new complex is large enough that new services can be added as needed.

The move to the new home also benefits the community, Andrews said.

“We’re taking an existing building and using for something, which means that there will be one less vacant building in the community,” she said.