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Proposed multipurpose building will house several entities under one roof

KINGWOOD — The conceptual design of a proposed multipurpose building that will house the Preston County Health Department, WIC and the WVU Extension Office was presented to members of the Board of Health at its Thursdays meeting.

Once constructed, the building will also provide additional storage space for EMS and the 911 Center in the basement. The building will be located on county property near the 911 Center. During an earlier meeting board members voted to pay $25,000 for the designs.

“Now we’re looking for grants and funds,” V.J. Davis, director of the health department said. “I understand it will cost between $300,000 to $350,000 per square foot to construct. That is $6 [million] to $8 million dollars.”

Davis said although he is happy with the space, he would like to have more room and be located on a ground floor. He said the Preston County commission currently provides the PCHD with free rent and utilities.

“We’ve always wanted our own building,” he said. “And the second floor is not an ideal location for a health department. It was hard for us to bring people in during the pandemic. With this building we can do drive through testing and vaccinations and we can grow.”

Davis said it was Commission President Samantha Stone who came up with the idea of merging the PCHD, WIC and the Extension Office into one multipurpose building instead of three separate buildings.

“It always seemed every corner we turned we were plagued with lack of space,” Stone said. “And the building they are in is not ideal space for a health department. I thought if we can move them to a new building we will have space to help along our other offices.”

Stone said the idea of building a new multipurpose building came when Davis went to the commissioners to talk about needing more space.

“When the pandemic hit it made us realize just how inadequate we were in doing drive through vaccinations,” Stone said. “I thought if we could get several different players to the table having several different services in one building would make it more attractive when we went looking for funding and grants.”

Stone said she is “super excited” to plunge in and find grants for the project. She said the building will offer 10,000 square feet of space on each of the two floors. Within the space, it will provide will be a conference area, a commercial kitchen and a lot of storage.

Extension Agent David Hartley said having space in the new building will help the Extension Office in many ways. He said it will provide more meeting space for the master gardeners and the canning class. Hartley said the canning class currently has only one stove, and having space for a second stove will allow the class to reach more individuals.

“Our 4-H program lets us look at agricultural education programs. More space will let us build better programs for our 4-H members. We currently have 400 members county wide,” Hartley said.

Board member Kendra Barker summed up the idea in one sentence.

“If you are looking at each entity wanting a new building, you get more bang for the buck by consolidating them,” she said.