Page County is capitalizing on American Rescue Plan funding in order to proceed with two important improvement projects.
During its meeting Aug. 17, the Page County Board of Supervisors voted 2-1 in favor of using the COVID-19 assistance to pay for upgrades to the Page County Annex building that houses Page County Public Health. The board also voted unanimously to use the funds to upgrade the network lines in the Page County Courthouse to improve internet speeds.
Page County Auditor Melissa Wellhausen reviewed the $14,000 engineering contract with HGM Associates for the improvements to the Annex with the board Tuesday morning. She said this was the second step in the contract process.
Wellhausen said this portion of the contract would only involve the engineering services needed to prepare for the improvements to the facility. Those services would involve evaluating the HVAC and electrical systems to ensure they meet the needs of the building. There would also be plans to make a restroom on the second floor handicap accessible and installing a lift to transport people from the first floor to the second floor.
“This is just the initial start so we can start looking at bidding things out. Especially with that lift, we need that architect and engineering plan,” Wellhausen said.
In addition, Wellhausen said an engineering plan would be developed to create a waiting room for Page County Public Health. This would allow that office to socially distance the clients it serves.
“Potentially, if vaccinations increase again, (this would allow) for a waiting room and for them to be able to socially distance people in there, which is one of the main funding purposes of the ARP,” Wellhausen said.
Armstrong and Supervisor Chairperson Chuck Morris voted in favor of approving the contract with HGM Associates.
“I think we need to move forward on that building. Now is the perfect opportunity, when we’ve got funding that will not have to be used out of any of our normal yearly expenses. I find it pretty important we get this done because who knows what the future will bring us,” Armstrong said.
However, Supervisor Jacob Holmes voted against signing the contract. He said he felt the county should requests bids on the engineering services.
Morris said the county had already spent a great deal of time bringing HGM Associates up to speed on its needs for the facility. In the process, he said the county had forged a good relationship with the company.
Therefore, Morris said he felt having to educate a new engineering company would only delay the project.
“These people have been pretty good to us. They’ve been fair, and they do a lot of work with municipalities and cities,” Morris said. “We’ve worked with them. You haven’t had that opportunity, so you might feel more comfortable if you’d seen their scope of work. I understand that.”
Earlier in the meeting, Page County IT Director Kory Kline met with the board to discuss the network lines at the courthouse. Kline said the cost of the upgrade would be $15,701.62.
“This basically will double our network drops here in the courthouse. It would be to the basement, first floor and third floor. Currently, our network lines go into your office. They run to your phone and then they run to your computer. This would allow another line so you can run straight to your computer because the phone has restrictions on your speed,” Kline said.
With the advancements in technology, Kline said the cables today are much smaller than those currently being used in the courthouse. As a result, Kline said the county would be able to remove the old cables and run two new cables in the same space.
Armstrong said the project would qualify for ARP funding as an administrative costs. Enhancing the internet speed in the courthouse, he said, would only strengthen the eligibility of the project.
“It’s going to make the world a lot smoother in the courthouse. It should free up a lot of the problems the Treasurer’s department had,” Armstrong said. “Even if we change (internet) companies down the road, this will enhance our situation.”
In other business, the board approved the signing of an equipment disposal form for the Page County Secondary Roads Department. Page County Engineer J.D. King said the department had sold a bat wing mower for $10,500 and that revenue would be applied toward the purchase of a new mower.