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These crucial fixes are planned for Dawson County’s current health department building
BOC approves talks with feds about upkeep for three lakeside parks
Health department SPLOST 7
The current Dawson County Health Department building sits at 54 Ga. 53 in downtown Dawsonville. - photo by Julia Hansen

When he came before the Board of Commissioners on Nov. 3, Facilities Director James Tolbert painted an unsettling picture of conditions in the county’s health department located at 54 Ga. 53 in Dawsonville. 

This story continues below.

Tolbert said now’s the time to remodel the 70-year-old building, which now contains aging carpet, deteriorating door frames and sparse electrical outlets.

These repairs would serve as a holdover while Dawson County prepares to fund and build a new health department. 

If approved, the budget for the fixes would be $60,968, with a $5,000 contingency factored into the total. Tolbert explained his department plans to save the county about $20,000 by issuing a purchase order individually to each of the four contractors, and supervising them in house. 

Flooring repairs would include patching a small hole in a clinic hallway and replacing the building’s carpets with waterproof, non-slip vinyl flooring. 

“Two thirds of the inside of this building is carpet right now, and it’s old carpet,” Tolbert said. “It’s been there since like 1992, and it’s [in] pretty bad shape.”

BOC Chairman Billy Thurmond recounted his discussions with the health department’s head nurse and his multiple visits there to assess conditions. 

“The carpet is so old and so bad that they asked somebody about cleaning it, and they said it’d come all to pieces if you tried to,” Thurmond said.

Tolbert called the flooring fixes the “big-ticket item,” with a projected cost of $31,027. That cost would encompass the removal of furniture from the carpeted spaces so the old carpeting could then be stripped and the new flooring could be installed. 

Painting walls along the clinic’s long hallway, common area and exterior would cost $12,980.

Health officials have also requested for the existing lobby door to be replaced with a locking one “to get a little more secure back in their areas,” Tolbert said. 

That fix, combined with replacing a brittle, rusted side door and frame, would amount to $7,413. 

Then, $4,947 in electrical fixes would include replacing the exterior lights and adding a timer, updating the electrical panel and addition of more outlets. 

Those fixes would allow health department staff to move medicine refrigerators to a central, secure area in the WIC office, Tolbert added. 

He elaborated that there’s only one outlet per WIC office right now, and that’s because a partition was put in that office to create two areas, as they’re running out of space. 

“That’s so inadequate,” said District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett. 

“But we’re going to make it adequate. This is their list,” Tolbert said of health officials, “and we’re going to accommodate them with y’all’s approval. They made the list, and we plan to do everything on it.”

“I know we’re building a new health department,” Thurmond said later, “but we’ve got to keep what we have up until we do, and that’s going to be a couple years down the road.”

Thurmond also pointed to the health department not being able to keep their medicines in the same place secured because “there’s not enough electrical outlets to run the power needed to run those.”

“So that all needs to be changed, and like he (Tolbert) said, you’ve got drop cords running from one side [to the other]...I mean it’s an electrical nightmare,” Thurmond added. “I’m surprised that the place [doesn't] burn down.”

Whatever the board’s desire for the building is in the future, Tolbert said making these 

accommodations would run into the next venture the county may have in mind for the space. 

Tolbert added these fixes wouldn’t need to be redone in three to four years and could last a good while. 

Parks update

In other news, the board voted to authorize Parks and Recreation Director Matt Payne and other county personnel to negotiate with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about management options for three federal lakeside parks in Dawson County. 

Once those negotiations are nailed down, any proposed agreements would come back to the board for further approval, District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines clarified. 

The BOC’s recent recreation discussions follow community concern around full or partial seasonal closures announced for Nix Bridge, Thompson Creek and Toto Creek parks.

Dawson County currently has a 25-year lease agreement with the Corps regarding another federal site along Lake Lanier, War Hill Park. 

The BOC and Payne previously discussed the possible options of either five or 25-year leases 

for the other three federal parks in Dawson County.