County annex building awaits generators
Two county departments are getting new offices and one office is slowly moving in.
Pulaski County Maintenance Director Jeff Johnston and the maintenance crew have been working with different contractors to improve the old Masonic Lodge at the northeast corner of Franklin and Main streets. The county council and commissioners approved to purchase the building in the hopes of creating a coroner’s office and moving the emergency management agency (EMA) office. They approved to purchase the building for about $50,000 and allow renovations at a cost up to $20,000. The building is about 5,628 square feet.
Walls have been torn down and built, exterior and interior painting was completed, three trees and one bush have been removed, concrete work that includes two pads and new sidewalks has been completed, electrical work started, stages were removed, three doors were built and locks will be changed, all as part of the renovation project.
The new building is offering expansive room for EMA, the coroner’s office and room for storage. The storage area will hold a majority of the documents being stored in the basement of the justice center. Johnston said the documents that are used on a regular basis will remain in the basement or be moved to a new area.
A new entrance was made for the EMA director’s office along with a wall being built to close off the area from the coroner’s office. Two entrances will be used for the coroner’s office — a main entrance for the public on the west side and one to move the bodies to the morgue on the north side.
The EMA office is beginning to slowly move into the new office. Some of the items from EMA director Sheri Gaillard’s office have been moved. Johnston said there are still numerous items from the historical society museum, a vault in one of the buildings, the county garage and the courthouse basement that have to be moved.
The coroner’s office includes a room for the coroner to meet with families, an autopsy area, a morgue and room for storage. Johnston said a wall will be installed to finish off the morgue area and future plans for the coroner’s bathroom could include installing a shower. Currently, there is not a coroner’s office. Items used by the coroner or records are being kept in different areas including at a personal business and home.
Johnston said one of the holdups on the project is the lack of generators. Because of the hurricanes that recently hit the states, generators are on backorder. He is hoping the generators will be received in the next couple of weeks. The electrical system in the building is also a problem because the conduits were installed in the ground and concrete poured over them. Only a portion of the building has an attic, so installing new wiring is a bit of a puzzle.