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Public tours health department building

Published on -7/2/2014, 11:39 AM

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By Tim Horan

The Salina Journal,

More than a dozen members of the public toured the "bright, shiny and new" Saline County Health Department building Tuesday morning.

"We've gone from a condemned building to one that is ready to open," said County Commission Chairman Randy Duncan, as he called to order the weekly commission meeting in a conference room of the health department building at 125 W. Elm.

Patrons toured the 90-year-old facility, which was condemned in May 2012, and were able to view the roof trusses that were replaced and repaired.

Byan Newell, of Manhattan's Riley Construction, pointed out that the building wasn't completely overhauled. He said that while the roof was being secured and while it was being repaired, there was some damage to the interior, which Riley Construction repaired. Commissioners also agreed to have the rest of the building painted and recarpeted. That work will begin Monday.

Newell said most of the lighting is new and the building is brighter.

Asked about building security, Bronson Farmer, health department director, said that only three doors will be open for the public. Duncan pointed out that, like all county buildings, people with concealed carry permits will be able to carry firearms in the health department building.

Regular roof inspections

Newell said that as part of the contract, the roof will be inspected over the next two years. Farmer said inspections will continue regularly.

"We can monitor any movement of the structure," Newell said.

Farmer said it was "just crazy" and "pretty much a disaster" when health department employees were told in May 2012 that they would have to immediately evacuate the building. He said that when Yvonne Gibbons, former health department director, told him he didn't have time to pack his files, "I didn't think she was serious."

Firefighters secured the roof so workers later were able to move files and equipment.

While the building at Seventh and Elm has been closed, the health department has been operating, free of charge, out of two buildings owned by Salina Regional Health Center -- the former REMA Bakeware building, 625 E. North, and the former Medaille Center, 148 N. Oakdale.

Temporary closure

Farmer said the health department clinic will be closed on July 14 to accommodate the move. Other services, such as environmental health, home health and maternal and child health, will continue. The clinic is expected to reopen July 21 at the Elm Street location.

"It will be a tight schedule," he said.

Employees of the Livestock and Expo Center will supervise community corrections trusties to help with the move.

(c)2014 The Salina Journal

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