MILLERSBURG − The proposed new home of the Holmes County General Heath District is one step closer to becoming a reality with the hiring of a general contractor.
Holmes County Commissioner Joe Miller shared details of an all-day work session held last week that brought about an agreement with Classical Construction as the general contractor for the two-story building to go up on Glen Drive between Rodhe's IGA and the Holmes County District Public Library.
Because of escalated costs, the project started at an estimated $4 million a few years ago, but is now approved for a cost up to $7.5 million.
Tekton Engineering is designing the structure and Classical Construction is the building contractor, said Miller at Monday's board meeting. "Basically, it's a two-story building with a basement level."
The building will house the Health District, which has been working out of a cubbyhole for years, according to Miller, as well as Holmes County Emergency Management.
"They currently have 24 employees, and health Commissioner Michael Derr said they eventually should have a couple more," Miller said. "The building will also serve as an emergency building shelter for heating and cooling people, if there is a disaster."
There will be an IT room to accommodate computer servers and other equipment, as well as storage.
Miller figures construction could start in April and take up to 12 months to complete.
Holmes County 'strong and serious about health opportunities'
"This thing has been thought out thoroughly by all entities, and Joe's (Miller) leadership and vision is allowing Holmes County to look at general health care in a different light," said Commissioner Dave Hall, who is new to the board. "The health department is integrated in our business world in what we do and how we function. They are a vital part of keeping Holmes County strong and healthy."
Both Hall and Miller agree it is the role of the commissioners to provide the health district with the proper facilities.
Hall commended Miller for having the foresight to use the federal stimulus money the county received toward the project.
He added many health districts have looked at regionalizing, joining other districts because of lack of a building.
"We would be the poster child for the next potential takeover, sending all of our health care needs to maybe Akron or Cleveland," Hall said. "None of us wants to (travel to) another county for those services. Having this facility allows us to show the state of Ohio that we're strong and serious about health opportunities."
Misty Burns, chairman of the health board, said she appreciates the forethought and the vision of the commissioners to bring the facility to Holmes County, which will allow the health department to grow and better serve the community.
EMA Director Jason Troyer looks forward to the potential for expanding health department programs.
"EMA is very blessed to move into that building," he said. "We do a lot of work with the health department, especially when we look at contingency plans and emergency operation plans. A lot of our plans go hand in hand, so being in the same building is a great opportunity."
This article originally appeared on The Daily Record: Holmes County moves forward with $7.5M health department building