Renovations under way on new county mental health building

Published 9:09 am Friday, September 2, 2011

Renovation is currently under way on the new Polk County mental health services building, located on White Drive in Columbus, near Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry. (photo by Leah Justice)

After spending almost 40 years in the former hospital building, Polk County is on target to vacate the aged Jervey-Palmer building by the end of October as renovations to a new mental health services facility have begun.
The county agreed by a 3-2 vote to purchase the mental health building from Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry in June for $110,583. Commissioners Ted Owens and Tom Pack voted against the purchase.
The county approved a 10-year agreement with Family Preservation Services to provide mental health services in the building and to provide inside maintenance, including cleaning services. Polk County will pay utilities and outside maintenance.
Family Preservation Services is currently renovating the former house, located at 94 White Drive in Columbus, to meet its needs. Renovations are expected to cost Family Preservation approximately $40,000.
Family Preservation has provided Polk County with mental health and substance abuse services, among other counseling services, for the past five years, using offices in the Jervey Palmer building. The Jervey-Palmer building (former St. Luke’s Hospital) is located off Carolina Drive in Tryon.
Renovations began to the White Drive house last Monday, Aug. 22. Polk County Manager Ryan Whitson said the fireplace has already been removed and contractors are creating a new entrance on the left side of the building, which will be equipped with a handicapped-accessible ramp.
Whitson said the remodeling is scheduled to be complete by the end of September. Whitson said he has asked that Family Preservation be moved into the new building no later than the end of October.
The county has worked for the past few years to vacate the Jervey-Palmer building, which is aged and costly to maintain. Several county departments were once housed in the Jervey-Palmer building, including the Meeting Place Senior Center, veteran’s services, the department of social services (DSS) and mental health services.
Polk County purchased the former Carolina Classical School building off Skyuka Road near Columbus a few years ago and moved the Meeting Place Senior Center and its veteran’s affairs office there. The county also added a new county service, an adult day care, also located on the former Carolina Classical School property.
Construction is currently under way on a new human services/DSS building off Wolverine Trail in Mill Spring, on property that also houses the county’s recreation park and middle school. Plans are for DSS to move out of the Jervey-Palmer building into the new offices by the end of October.
Whitson said once the building is vacated, there will mostly likely be a transitional period, during which files will be moved to other locations from the Jervey-Palmer building. Once that is complete, the county will need to dispose of the property.
Commissioners have not yet discussed what their plans are for the building, such as placing it on the market. The building was constructed in 1929 and has been used as county offices since the early 1970s when St. Luke’s Hospital opened its new building in Columbus in 1972.

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