County considers expanding its real estate holdings
Grady County commissioners have given the authorization to explore the possibility of purchasing real estate that could provide room for the State Probation Office and county records.
During Thursday’s county commission meeting, the board met with Chief Probation Officer Jay Worsley about the Department of Correction’s need for office space in Cairo.
Currently, the probation office is located in the former Wind duplex, 24 Third Avenue N.E., located east of the courthouse on the courthouse square.
Since the construction of the new courthouse, the county annex has suffered from drainage issues and the structure is settling, which has caused cracking in the brick walls.
Code Enforcement Officer Larry Ivy offered his recommendations on how best to preserve and renovate the facility. The recommended plan would involve jacking up the floor system and pouring new footers, removing heating & air duct work from underneath the structure and putting it in the attic of the building.
Ivy predicts even if the work is done, the structure will continue to suffer from problems with water because of the elevation of the new courthouse.
Because of the moisture and mold problems the chief probation officer has been investigating vacant office space here.
Grady County Administrator Rusty Moye asked for Worsley to brief the board on what he had found.
Grady County does not charge the state rent for the probation office, but during the discussion Thursday it was learned that the Department of Corrections pays rent for most of its other offices in southwest Georgia.
Moye said that in addition to providing the probation office suitable office space, the county is also in need of additional space for records storage. Other possibilities discussed were the construction of a new building on the same site as the Wind duplex or the erection of a modular building on that site.
“It seems like we are dealing with two different issues,” County Commissioner T.D. David said.
“If Jay were to find another location here, our recommendation would be to tear the building down,” Moye said.
Commission Chairman Elwyn Childs suggested Chief Probation Officer Worsley inquire about how much the state would pay for renting office space. Moye agreed and noted the city of Cairo recently purchased the former Bank of America building after negotiating a contract with the Georgia Department of Labor. The lease payments will cover the city’s cost to purchase and renovate the facility, Moye pointed out.
“If we do something like build a new building, bring in a modular building or purchase a building, we could negotiate with the Department of Corrections to offset the county’s cost similar to what the city has done,” Moye said.
Worsley agreed to find out what the state would pay for office rent here and would continue to look at available office space here.
“I have talked with different people with rental property available here. The main issue we have to deal with is safety and security of our people. When you walk in to our office now, you are only allowed in by a buzzer. We have to have that security,” Worsley explained.
The chief probation officer reminded commissioners that his staff is dealing with convicted felons.
“So that I understand, what you are looking at is that it is more cost effective not to renovate where we are, and we should be looking at another building?” Worsley asked.
“The building will continue to be a problem for you and us. The one issue we didn’t talk about is buying something that could suit your needs and assist us with additional space for record storage. We’ve got to do something about that because we are absolutely running out of space on the third floor,” Moye said.
If the county did not look at building a new building or purchasing a property, Moye would recommend making the old jail building suitable for records storage.
After additional discussion, the county administrator asked for the board’s permission to look into the purchase of a building for sale that he is aware of.
“We could house other offices there besides Jay and his group and would give us record storage space,” Moye said.
“It won’t hurt to look,” Chairman Childs said. He also commented, “We don’t need to lose jobs here if we can help it.” According to Worsley, five of the members of the local probation office staff reside in Grady County.
“Our only commitment is to get more information,” Commissioner Al Ball clarified.
Moye agreed and said he would bring back the information to the board for final approval.