DHS finally able to move into its offices on U.S. 61 South

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 24, 2003

WOODVILLE &045; Three years after the initial contract was let to build a new Department of Human Services building here, the agency has finally been given permission to occupy its new offices on U.S. 61.

The move had been postponed since October of 2001 while county supervisors and contractors tried to patch their differences over a leaking roof on the new building.

But DHS director Francis Bailey said any problems that may remain with the new structure are minor to her.

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&uot;Compared to where we came from, there’s no need to complain,&uot; said Bailey, who worked for years with her staff of 15 in a 1920’s school building on First South Street.

&uot;It was amazing how cold that old building was,&uot; said Bailey.

On Tuesday, cars filled the freshly-painted parking lot at the new edifice, as clients checked in with the receptionist and visited caseworkers in spacious offices.

&uot;We are still getting telephones installed, but that should be completed today,&uot; said Bailey.

All three units of DHS operations &045; child support, family/children services and economic assistance &045; are now located in the new building, Bailey said.

&uot;It’s much more convenient for everybody &045; especially for child support,&uot; said Bailey.

&uot;They had to use cubicles in the old building, but now we can provide those clients with better confidentiality.&uot;

For now, the old DHS headquarters will be used for storage.

&uot;We will leave some of our closed files at the old building for the time being,&uot; said Bailey.

The original contract price of the new office building was $412,757, which was funded through a 1999 Community Development Block Grant.

In April of this year, after paying $365,857 and claiming the roof still leaked, county supervisors took the contractors to court.

Greenwood contractor Mike Rozier and Integrated Management Services, PA of Jackson were named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Rozier and IMS both filed counterclaims denying any wrongdoing.

Natchez attorney Robert Latham represents the county in the civil suit, which is still pending in Wilkinson County Chancery Court.

Latham previously said efforts were underway to resolve the case through mediation.

Attempts to reach Latham were unsuccessful.