As Presiding Commissioner Arden Engelage rattled off a series of adjectives describing the new Warren County Administration Building, the highlight came at the end.
“The citizens of Warren County have a building that, I hope they feel, is accessible, attractive, efficient, expandable and best of all, totally paid for,” Engelage remarked.
Though county offices relocated to the new 36,670-square-foot, two-story facility in early May, last Thursday’s open house and dedication ceremony was an opportunity for county officials to showcase and give residents full access to the new administration building.
Located on Highway 47 and Mockingbird Lane in Warrenton, the new $6.5-million facility houses all non-court related county offices, including the county clerk, treasurer, collector, assessor, planning and zoning, emergency management agency, sanitarian and the health department. Construction began in October 2010.
The building project was funded through the county’s capital improvement fund. The project was completed within budget. Two grants totaling $227,745 were used for some of the expenses to construct and outfit the emergency management agency office located in the basement of the new building.
While the project generated plenty of controversy as to the cost, size and especially the location of the building, commissioners were adamant that a new facility was needed to alleviate space constraints at the courthouse.
That building will be renovated later this year as plans are under way to construct a jail dorm and a third courtroom.
Officials also touted the fact that the new building will be capable of accommodating continued growth should county offices need to expand and provides better, more convenient parking for visitors.
“I hope we all can be proud of the facility we have here in front of us today,” Engelage remarked.
Representatives of two firms who assisted the county commission on the building project echoed those sentiments.
Nick Smith, of Septagon Construction, the company that served as project manager and oversaw construction, said the county commission outlined three objectives prior to the start of construction — decisions needed to be made in the best interest of taxpayers, a quality building was needed and it had to be cost effective.
“I think we achieved those goals,” Smith said. “We think it’s a great building. It was an excellent commission to work with.”
Sharon Schmitz, representing Treanor Architects, agreed. Her firm started working with the county on the project in 2008 and designed the facility.
“This has been a long road to get us to this,” she said. “It’s great to have a county that has vision to get us to this place. It’s been a pleasure working on this with the county. They had the vision to think about the future generations and the legacy they are leaving behind.”
Last Thursday’s ceremony also included brief remarks from Warrenton Mayor Jerry Dyer, who drew a round of applause from attendees when he commented, “With olive branch in hand, I am here to seek a renewed spirit of cooperation and a coming together of partners to serve the needs of all county and city residents.”
Dyer was elected in April, long after a legal spat between the city and the county began when construction on the administration building started and a dispute ensued over the need to have a building permit.
That argument is still ongoing as both sides await an appellate court ruling following a circuit court decision that led to the county paying $27,406 in permit fees.