Renovations underway in government center

Warren County Supervisor Archie Fox, left, and Commissioner of the Revenue Sherry Sours, center, listen as Project Manager Jeff Hayes describes renovations underway in the customer service area of the commissioner's office on Wednesday. Alex Bridges/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Work continues on security upgrades and renovations to the Warren County Government Center.

The Building Committee heard updates on several projects Wednesday, including major renovations to the Commissioner of Revenue and Treasurer’s offices. The committee consists of members of the Board of Supervisors and other officials as well as representatives of firms contracted by the county.

Earlier this year the Board of Supervisors awarded a contract to Lantz Construction of Winchester to renovate the two areas and to install acoustic improvement in the boardroom at a price of $343,000, including $34,300 for unforeseen costs.

Project Manager Jeff Hayes said he expects workers to put up the drywall this weekend. They still need to install bullet-resistant material for the customer walk-up windows. The project adds three more service windows to the commissioner’s side, replaces carpet and puts in another door to the customer area.

“So it’s coming along very well,” Hayes said.

Crews should complete the work in November, Hayes added. Similar renovations to the treasurer’s office area should begin once the commissioner’s side is complete.

Work on the treasurer’s office won’t likely start until after taxes are due on Dec. 5, County Administrator Douglas Stanley said.

Additional windows should help the lines of customers move faster, Stanley said. But they do take up more lobby space and the lines could stack up into the hallway.

The county recently embarked on a project to install security upgrades around the government center. Keypad and electronic card locks have already been installed on various doors in the center. In response to a question from Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard Traczyk, Stanley said this marks the last of the planned security improvements.

As time and money allow, Stanley said the county might renovate the building official’s office area.

Hayes also updated the committee on work underway at the courthouse. Russell Roofing recently completed the building’s roof. The project was completed within budget, Hayes said. He noted the roof comes with a 20-year warranty. More than 20 heating, ventilation and air conditioning units were replaced.

Work on a project to turn part of the former jail into a holding area for prisoners awaiting court appearances should begin next month, Hayes said. The contractor is expected to complete the project in January, he said.

The county also embarked on a project to renovate the former 15th Avenue middle school into its future Health and Human Services Complex. The county contracted with Lantz on this project at a cost of $3.98 million.

The project remains on schedule, Hayes said. Personnel are expected to move into the facility by early January. However, unforeseen expenses have used up the 5 percent contingency amount, or nearly $200,000 included in the project budget.

Traczyk questioned the $200,000 cost to furnish the facility and asked why the Department of Social Services didn’t reuse some of its furniture.

The Department of Health does plan to reuse its furniture, Stanley said. The Department of Social Service’s furniture is a “hodgepodge” of pieces, he said. The county has set aside money in the agency’s budget saved mostly from not filling vacant positions for the pending cost of new furniture.

The committee also heard about ongoing problems with the Samuels Library building, specifically the climate control system. The system started showing signs of trouble when the facility opened on Criser Road in June 2009, said Eileen Grady, director of operations for the library. The problems remain unresolved, causing the library’s electricity bills to escalate. The library spent $95,000 on electricity in fiscal 2015, almost double what it normally pays.

Lantz Construction of Winchester contracted with now-defunct Campbell Diversified Services, which subcontracted with two other firms. Campbell went bankrupt around the time of the construction. One of the subcontracted firms didn’t receive its money. Max Clatterbuck, president of Lantz Construction of Winchester, said he first heard about the library’s problems Tuesday.

The Library Board of Trustees plans to meet with Carrier, the contractor overseeing the maintenance of the climate system, to investigate the problems. County officials likely will assist the board.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com