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Renovation shuffle begins

Long before any renovations get underway on the historic Halifax Courthouse, a rash of renovations, remodeling and remakes must take place so offices can be shuffled around to make room for the courthouse and sheriff’s office moves.


Halifax County Supervisors took the first financial steps to making these changes happen Monday night during their regular monthly meeting in Halifax.

The costly chain of events that must transpire before courthouse renovations can begin involves renovating a portion of the STEM Center in Halifax so that the school system’s alternative education program can move from the industrial arts building, located adjacent to the Mary Bethune office complex.

Supervisors approved an agreement Monday with Dewberry for architectural services to renovate 6,420 square feet of the STEM Center to house the alternative education program at an estimated project cost of $833,000.

Dewberry proposes to provide the services for $81,170.

Included in this renovation project will be construction of a coordinator’s office, receptionist’s office, five 600 square foot classrooms, dining room for a maximum of 50 students with no kitchen, teacher’s lounge, boy’s gang toilet, girl’s gang toilet, unisex staff toilet and janitor’s closet.

The project includes the design of canopy, steps and handicapped ramp at the proposed new entry to the alternative education area.

A separate sewer waste line and gravity sewer are proposed for the new bathrooms.

Total cost of the project is estimated at $833,000. However, the best news, according to County Administrator Jim Halasz, is that the county already has the majority of the cost budgeted in the current budget.

Halifax County received a little over $830,000 in a one-time credit in December after the Virginia Public School Authority refinanced the school’s $5.5 million debt service.

“We plan to channel that toward the STEM Center renovations, and we won’t have to borrow that money, just transfer it to the school capital projects,” Halasz explained.

The school will pick up any costs not covered by the one-time credit, he added.

Renovation needs to begin immediately, the county administrator said, in order for alternative education students to be in that space by the start of the school year in August.

The second piece of the puzzle will involve renovating the 12,300 square foot interior and exterior of the industrial arts building to house the general district court and clerk, the juvenile and domestic relations court and clerk, juvenile probation services and support spaces and provide room for the lobby, restrooms and bailiff as needed.

These renovations are needed to allow these functions to operate on a continual basis during the construction phase renovation of the courthouse facility.

After the completion of the courthouse construction project and relocation back into the courthouse, the industrial arts building will be converted into space to house the county administrator and provide a meeting space for the board of supervisors.

According to Halasz, the roof on the industrial arts building will not need to be replaced because it is relatively new.

Parking will be accommodated in the existing parking lots in front of the Mary Bethune building and behind the industrial arts building, and HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems will be replaced.

After the building has been occupied by the courts and then vacated, the building will undergo another renovation to accommodate the county’s administrative offices and functions with the county expected to then permanently occupy 10,000 square feet in the industrial arts building.

Supervisors approved an agreement for services with CJMW Architecture, the same firm that is responsible for courthouse  architectural services, at a cost of $189,000 for the renovation of the old industrial arts building as temporary courts space.

Next, the board approved an agreement with B & B Consultants to provide architectural services, final design and bidding specifications for the renovation of the county administrative offices to be used by the sheriff’s department.

B & B Consultants will provide these services for $61,800.

Halasz explained the design package for this project includes renovations to the existing county administrative office building to be converted into the sheriff’s office administrative building, the demolition of the existing county maintenance building located at the rear of the administrative office building, construction of a new 4,000 square foot sheriff’s office operations building in its place and site plan and parking improvements associated with the project.

Work on the plans is approximately 90 percent complete, Halasz said, with an intended completion date of Feb. 15.

B & B proposed a schedule for moving forward with bidding, contracting and construction which includes the county authorizing to proceed with construction advertisement at its March 3 meeting, advertise for construction for 30 days beginning March 5, open bids on April 4, approve the award on April 7, contracting process to take 15 days beginning April 22, construction begins May 7 or 15 days after the bid award, and construction will be complete by Nov. 14.

This schedule would allow the relocation of the sheriff’s office in 2014 and ensures the project does not complete in the winter which could present challenges with low temperatures and inclement weather while asphalt paving operations are underway, B & B President Jimmy Epps explained.

Also approved Monday evening was an agreement with Davenport and Company to provide financial consulting services to the county for capital needs and financing associated with the courthouse project, temporary courts project, sheriff’s department project and related capital needs and uses.

To provide these services, Davenport will charge $45,000.

Finally Monday, supervisors adopted a resolution for reimbursement of county expenses associated with the temporary courthouse and sheriff’s department projects as provided by the county attorney in the amount of $2.7 million.

The resolution will permit the county to continue expending funds for capital projects and recover these funds through long-term debt financing. 

According to the county administrator, the reimbursement resolution provides a way for the county to recapture the money being spent out of pocket and pay the $2.7 million back to the general fund.