By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: January 11, 2019 | 6:45 p.m.
DINWIDDIE – As the holiday season slowly becomes a distant memory in the minds of Dinwiddie locals, business in the county is returning to normal with one difference – the county’s new government center is fully operational and ready to assist residents with all of their needs.
As of the start of the year, many of Dinwiddie County’s governmental services and departments are operating under the same roof at the Dinwiddie County Government Center, moving out of their former home inside the Pamplin Administration Building a short distance away, completing the next phase in the development of an all-encompassing government hub in the Village of Dinwiddie.
This time last year, much of the building was still open as the two-story facility’s steel framework was being constructed, something Dinwiddie County Administrator Kevin Massengill reflected on the building’s first full day of operation last Wednesday.
“Last Christmas, the expectation was that we would start seeing steel come out of the ground,” he said. “We had a pad but, we would start seeing that steel being erected out of the ground then. So, really from this past Christmas [in 2017] to the Christmas we just had [in 2018], to know that we were able to stay on track and keep the project moving forward is very rewarding for me and the staff.”
In February of 2018, a mere 11 months ago, County Administrator Kevin Massengill took supervisors on a tour of the new government center. Now, the building is open for business and receiving positive feedback from locals. (Michael Campbell)
On the first floor of the new center, accessible through street-level parking on the courthouse-facing side or via a wide staircase or elevators, Dinwiddie’s health department, the board of supervisor’s boardroom, children’s services, a training room along with “building support and storage spaces” will all find their new home on the first floor.
On the second floor, easily accessible through the Boydton Plank Road-facing side and the same staircases and elevators, offices for county administration, human resources, finance, the county attorney, economic development, planning and zoning, the commissioner of revenue, and treasurer’s office will all be located there beginning this week. In addition, services such as the geographic information system, GIS for short, conference rooms, and building support spaces will also be located on the upper floor of the center.
Unlike a business who might have the ability to close their doors temporarily to allow for a move, Dinwiddie County still needed to provide services to the community even in the midst of a transition, something Massengill said took a lot of preparedness and planning among all of the departments involved in the move.
“We really have to recognize the staff because we had a lot of things that had to move, like phone and computer systems, files, equipment, and other elements,” he said, noting that the move didn’t just involve departments moving across the street, but from across the county, referring to the Dinwiddie Health Department and Dinwiddie Social Services.
“As part of the move, we saw social services move 30 members of their staff here, our health department, as they were moving here, had to move their equipment as well,” Massengill continued. “When people think of government and a move, some may think its just files, which files are part of it but, there is equipment and technology that required a lot of pre-planning.”
Social services and the health department are under the same roof for the first time, allowing residents to have access to their services on the same floor inside the same facility, a fact County Administrator Massengill and Social Services Director Rose Mastracco are excited about. (Michael Campbell/The Dinwiddie Monitor)
“I am proud of the fact that, when it was time to implement the plan, everyone knew their responsibilities and what they needed to do,” he said.”
While this week marks the first full week of the center’s operations, due to the relatively smooth execution of the transition between buildings, staff began serving county residents out of the government center on the Friday prior of New Year’s Eve, a few days ahead of schedule.
According to Massengill, the feedback from the first customers of the new building has been largely positive.
“To look at the faces of some of the people who came here earlier this morning and be serviced out of this building, there are some good comments being made about their experiences,” he said. “For me, that shows we know we are doing something right in the community. They are very proud of the building and there is a sense of accomplishment when you know that the public’s building is something they walk into feel proud of.”
Last week, hours after the building’s first day of operation in 2019, supervisors met inside their new first-floor boardroom to hold their organizational meeting, electing William Chavis as Chairman and Daniel Lee as vice-chair for the 2019 calendar year. That boardroom features several enhancements to improve the visitor experience, such as sound improvements and mounted monitors for the community to see presentations clearly during meetings.
From the boardroom to the foyer, and all throughout the building, the facility was constructed in such a manner to support one of the county’s core tenets, value-added customer service.
“When it comes to value-added customer service, it’s about going the extra mile,” Massengill said. “From the design and making sure parking spaces are easily convenient and accessible to the public to the building layout. That’s why your commissioner of revenue, your treasurer, and your building, zoning, and planning [departments] are together because that is more at the front-end of what we do.”
The community is invited to an open house on January 17 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. where the building’s opening will be celebrated and residents can tour the facility. (Michael Campbell/The Dinwiddie Monitor)
“Close by that,” he continued, “you have the administration. But, even more so, for the first time in the county, we have all government services in the same building with us, along with health and human services. So, value-added customer service isn’t just good customer service but it’s going the extra mile and we feel like that we’re doing that with this first-class building.”
When it comes to the project’s completion, Massengill credits their partners on the engineering and construction team for the success of the center.
“We have been blessed to have a good partner, HBA Architecture and Armada Hoffler,” he said. “They were able to take the vision we had and stay on schedule and make this work.”
Next week on January 17 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., the community is invited and encouraged to attend an open house event at the Dinwiddie County Government Center where they can learn more about the building and tour the facility that Massengill and others call “The Public’s Building.”
“We want the community we serve to have just as much excitement, pride, and honor for this building,” he said. “They have been so supportive and they have worked with us through so much, from the interruptions on U.S. Route 1 to the parking lot adjustments. The whole way through, the citizens have been appreciative because they knew the plans for this complex were coming.”
“We want this building to be their building, the people’s building. We are the tenants of this building for this short time but at the same time, we want the public to tell us what they see and if we have any opportunities to make it better, let us know,” Massengill closed.