The Webster County Board of Supervisors heard concerns about moving certain services to different buildings from individuals served by the Webster County Friendship Center during their meeting Tuesday morning.
Supervisor Mark Campbell reported that the county is looking into moving all law enforcement operations back into the Law Enforcement Center from the lower level of the Northwest Bank building and that Public Health clinics would be relocated from three locations to one location in the bank building presently occupied by law enforcement. The plan also includes relocating Emergency Management from the LEC to the bank building, and relocating the Friendship Center from its second floor location in the bank building to space previously occupied by Public Health in the Social Services Building on First Avenue North.
Supervisor Clark Fletcher expressed his opposition to portions of the plan.
"I'm concerned about moving these offices and agencies," Fletcher said. "I am concerned that many of these things are being driven to keep us in the commercial real estate business and I am not in favor of many of the changes that have been proposed."
"We need to provide space for our county offices first," said Supervisor Merrill Leffler. "I'm not sure we are using our properties to their highest and best use."
Fletcher said having the Friendship Center under the same roof as the Webster County Disabilities Alliance has been beneficial and he is concerned about possibly changing that.
"Having them next to social services is the best place for them," said Fletcher. "I am concerned about splitting that up."
Randy Hoover, a peer support staff member at the Friendship Center, expressed his concern about relocating.
"We're not an office, we are a recovery center," said Hoover. "We help people get well, we have a wonderful location and we have had other agencies come to our facility saying they want to duplicate what we have."
Hoover said the large open space on the second floor of the bank building has allowed the Friendship Center to offer a variety of activities and the ability to serve a large number of people.
"We value our place," said Hoover. "We are a few blocks from the bus stop, we need a central location and we need the space. In the past eight months we have had 1,400 people come through our doors. We have a secure location where we are at and it is important that social services be right across from us."
Ken Hays, Webster County Social Services administrator encouraged the board to consider other options before moving the center.
"My encouragement is that you look at other options than what you have considered doing with the Friendship Center" said Hays. "Here we have a place where people can come to get away from their environment; this is a place where they can relate to other people and where they can thrive."