By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: Mar. 2, 2018 | 4:45 p.m.
DINWIDDIE – Driving along Boydton Plank Road in Dinwiddie County, you’d be hard-pressed to miss the sounds of hammering and sparks emanating from welders as they all work collectively on constructing two new buildings that will serve to not only transform the government complex but bring a vast majority of county operations together in the same area for the first time.
Regarding first times, last Tuesday was the first time members of the Dinwiddie County Board of Supervisors were able to walk through the two-story health and human services building and the nearby new state-of-the-art public safety building during the afternoon session of their monthly meeting.
Donning safety gear and appropriate footwear to navigate the somewhat muddy worksite from recent rains, supervisors were led on walking tour of the new health and human services buildings by County Administrator Kevin Massengill and Deputy County Administrator Anne Howerton, who both have been closely involved with the planning and execution of the new buildings for the past several years.
Crews work on the exterior framing of the new two-story health, human services, and county administration building near the Pamplin Administration Building. Last week, supervisors got their first tour of the new facility that is scheduled for a late-2018 completion. (Michael Campbell/The Dinwiddie Monitor)
Both the public safety building and new health and human services building are all part of a $24 million project being constructed by Armada Hoffler Properties, Incorporated and their construction division after county leaders agreed to enter into a contract with the company in late 2016.
As supervisors walked through the new health, human services, and county administration building, crews from Armada Hoffler and their contractors were busy taking advantage of the dry day to get work done after a recent spell of rain and snow over the past few weeks has slowed construction some, but the project remains on schedule for a Fall 2018 opening, county officials explained during the tour.
Regarding the county administration building, the structure supervisors and staff walked through was developed with great care and attention to detail, mainly aimed at where the county is currently in terms of space needs and where it could go in the future.
Between 2012 and 2014, Dinwiddie officials worked Baxter Bailey and Associates in creating a master plan and conducting a space needs analysis. Through that research, it was determined that the new health, human services, and county administration building would be two stories tall, containing over 54,000-square feet within its walls, while the new county public safety building would be 23,000-square feet.
The new county administration building would serve as the state-of-the-art home of social services, Dinwiddie’s health department, the board of supervisor’s boardroom, children’s services, a training room along with “building support and storage spaces” on the first floor. Offices for county administration, human resources, finance, the county attorney, economic development, planning and zoning, the commissioner of revenue, the treasurer would be located on the second floor, along with access to the geographic information system, or GIS, conference rooms, and building support spaces.
Dinwiddie County Administrator Kevin Massengill shows supervisors where the staircase that will link the first and second floors in the main building corridor will take visitors to when they come to the new health, human service, and county administration building. (Michael Campbell/The Dinwiddie Monitor)
In addition, the building was built with security in mind as County Administrator Massengill explained that conversations were had between the county and Sheriff D.T. Adams about keeping the new building secure, which led to its design where a deputy can have easy access to both floors of the building in seconds by simply taking the main staircase linking the two entrances, one facing toward Boydton Plank Road and the other facing toward the Dinwiddie County Courthouse.
The emphasis on security continues beyond the front entrance when it comes to the new boardroom area for the Dinwiddie County Board of Supervisors. Located on the first floor closer to the entrance facing the Dinwiddie County Courthouse, Massengill explained, on evenings when the board is hosting a meeting, the community will be able to use an entrance that leads directly into the board meeting area, allowing for the remainder of the building to be locked off without impeding access to the meeting.
The new health, human services, and county administration building will also have the added benefit of providing the county’s department of social services with a new home that suits the needs of the growing agency.
“When I got here 15 years ago, this project was really born out of concerns about the limitations of the existing social services and health department [building] at the time,” Massengill explained. “The old buildings were built in the late 40s to early 50s so they were well-used by not constructed in such a way that they were going to last over time and they had reached their useful end, especially with the health department where we had some environmental issues where that building was closed due to mold.”
Massengill continued, adding when he came to the county over a decade ago, the social services building in Dinwiddie was ranked one of the worst in all of Virginia by the state and, “by the time it was closed, it was the worst as far as physical environment and space.”
“It just wasn’t effective or efficient” for staff or county residents, he added.
Navigating across the currently closed parking area of the government complex, supervisors made their way to the new public safety building that sits in the shadow of the health, human services, and county administration building just off Courthouse Road, a new 23,000-square-foot building that will serve as the new hub for the county’s public safety and emergency services resources.
Supervisor William Chavis talks with County Administrator Kevin Massengill as they stand in the future home of the county’s emergency communications center inside the new public safety building where the Dinwiddie Sheriff’s Office and Fire and EMS will reside beginning later in the spring of 2018. (Michael Campbell/The Dinwiddie Monitor)
Featuring new runs for the Dinwiddie Sheriff’s Office K-9 units, new office space for members of the sheriff’s office and emergency services, and space for a brand-new emergency operations center and dispatch area, county leaders were taken aback by the progress on the building and what the future holds for the new facility when it opens later in the Spring.
For Massengill, the public safety building will set another milestone in Dinwiddie County’s history.
“This will be the first time in the county’s history that we have all of Dinwiddie’s public safety entities working out of the same building,” Massengill remarked. “When you talk about hazard mitigation and planning with the board of supervisors and we have a situation like inclement weather, we can operate our emergency operations center out of this new facility and that is something we are excited about.”
Expanding further on the new public safety building, Massengill said this new facility is being built with modern law enforcement needs in mind.
“Law enforcement today isn’t what it was in the 1970s,” the county administrator said, referring to the age of the Dinwiddie Sheriff’s Office’s current home. “Having the sheriff’s office in this new facility will further enhance our law enforcement approach,” Massengill continued, noting the department’s new home will feature an armory and quartermaster’s office, the magistrate’s office, and other areas to assist authorities.
In addition, the facility features holding areas for inmates awaiting transport to Meherrin River Regional Jail, vehicle bays where the county’s tactical crew and prepare their gear and head out when needed, and a fitness area for deputies and crews alike to stay in shape.
County Administrator Kevin Massengill and Deputy County Administrator lead supervisors on a tour of the county’s newest structures as the health, human services, and county administration building rises on the grounds of the Dinwiddie County government complex. (Michael Campbell/The Dinwiddie Monitor)
With all those services under one roof, the current home of county administration would become the renovated home of the Dinwiddie School Board. Massengill explained once staff moves to the new building in late-2018, work will begin to renovate the Pamplin Administration Building to serve as the school division’s central office. For Massengill, through his conversations with new schools superintendent Dr. Kari Weston, having a home for all of the school division’s needs is important.
“Many of the things the school division does are currently decentralized,” Massengill explained. “They are looking at this space and seeing what needs to come back to the central office,” pointing to examples such as special education services, school nutrition, and possibly buildings and grounds all working out the renovated building that the school board will call home.
“Having those key positions working alongside you creates great efficiency,” Massengill remarked, noting that the renovation of the Pamplin Administration Building for the school board should be completed by the early spring of 2019.
In addition, once the new public safety building opens in the spring of 2018, the department’s current home at the corner of Courthouse Road and Boydton Plank Road will become the home of the county’s information technology department.
“This is going to truly be a one-stop shop for services in Dinwiddie County,” Massengill proclaimed.