With an eye toward the future, the Board of Commissioners took the next step Thursday to gain more money for Dawson County to make its vision of a new health department a reality.
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During their Jan. 19 voting session, the board approved a measure to send the Georgia Department of Public Health a letter requesting $1.5 million for the construction of a new health department facility.
As with previous infrastructure endeavors, BOC Chairman Billy Thurmond doubled down on securing available money for the health department project.
“If we can get all of this additional funding and grants, we’ll be able to build us something better that’ll last us another 50 years,” Thurmond said.
The board’s vote follows the county completing various repairs to the current health department over the winter holidays.
That’s to help the county maintain what it currently has now and prepare that building for whatever occupies it after the health department, officials said at previous public meetings.
Just like with the current facility, the new health department will be a joint state-county venture, Thurmond said.
Dawson County corresponded with State Rep. Will Wade and State Sen. Steve Gooch when brainstorming how to secure state funding for the health center. Rep. Wade requested that the letter be sent to DPH, Thurmond told the board.
The $1.5 million would cover engineering, design, site development and building construction for the forthcoming facility to be located at 860 Ga. 53 West. The property was previously used as a Fleet Services site.
The total cost for constructing a 14,500-square-foot-plus health department is an estimated $4.5 million, with a target completion date of 2024 or beyond, according to Dawson County’s letter to Georgia’s DPH.
“To say we have outgrown our current health dept building is an understatement,’ Thurmond stated in the letter.
The chairman cited how the current one-story, 6,930-square-foot facility was built in 1950. Community health needs have grown exponentially since then, with the local population more than doubling since that time.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, has made the need for a larger and updated health department even more evident,” Thurmond stated later in the letter.
During the BOC’s Jan. 19 work session, Thurmond reminded the board of the $2.5 million currently budgeted in the county’s seventh Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST 7) as well as a possible Community Services Block Grant of $1 million that could also help with the new health department.
DCN will continue to follow this Dawson County project.