Franklin County officials met with Cochran Engineering last week to go over plans to remodel a building into the new county health department.

To keep the project within budget, some exterior work, such as installing awnings and painting outside walls, may be left out, Second District County Commissioner Mike Schatz said.

If the bids for the project are favorable, those items may be able to stay in the project, he noted.

Schatz, Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer, Health Department Director Angie Hittson and other county officials met with Cochran Engineering of Union last Wednesday.

The priority will be major items such as the roof and heating and air conditioning system, Schatz said.

The project involves remodeling the former prosecuting attorney’s office into the new health department.

But if the cost comes in too high, the project may have to be scrapped, Schatz said.

“We’re just trying to be as frugal as possible with it,” Schatz said.

The design plans for the project are “almost 100 percent complete,” Schatz said.

The former prosecutor’s office, which is located on East Main Street in Union, has already been gutted for the project.

Schatz said the new location for the health department is needed because the current facility in downtown Union is too small and not conducive to a good working environment.

The new building will be 2,200 square feet larger than the current location, Schatz said.

“I think it will turn out great,” he said.

County officials say another advantage to moving into the new building is that it will get the health department out of rented space and into a county-owned building.

Franklin County should have a high-quality health department, Schatz said. The $1,600 per month that currently goes toward rent can now be used to pay for the cost of the new health department, Schatz said.

“I think it’s a win-win,” he said.

He hopes the county can go out to bid on the project at the June 18 county commission meeting. The goal is to open bids at the July 16 commission meeting, he said.

It is expected that the construction will take about four months.

The budget for the project is $500,000, and that must also cover the $38,000 for Coch- ran Engineering to provide architecture and engineering services.

“I’ve been anxious to get this thing going,” Schatz said.