Two divisions of the Mississippi Department of Human Services (DHS) in Yalobusha County are looking for a new home.
The Family and Children’s Division and Child Support Enforcement Divisions currently share a Main Street Building in Water Valley that will be torn down later this summer.
The building, located at 318 South Main Street, has been rented by the county for office space for DHS. Last week, building owner Dexter Brown sold the building and property to Lola Westerfield, owner of the adjacent Sonic. Supervisors met Tuesday morning in Water Valley to discuss finding a new facility.
Accompaning Westerfield was Sonic supervisor Frank Hernandez who told supervisors they would be happy to work with the county, giving supervisors time to locate new office space. Hernandez and supervisors agreed to sign an agreement allowing the DHS to stay in the building for 90 days.
The county had been renting the building on a month-to-month basis.
“If y’all find something tomorrow, we will terminate the 90-day lease,” Hernandez told supervisors. He also agreed to lower the rent for the 90-day period from $700 monthly to $500.
“Whatever we can do to help,” Hernandez explained.
After the deal between the county and Sonic officials, supervisors then asked for input from several DHS personnel present at the meeting about locating new office space.
Ruby Jo Purdy said told supervisors that both divisions would need about five offices each.
The current building is 2,356 square feet.
“Our work is not conducive to dividers,” Purdy told supervisors. “We need actual offices,” as both temporary and permanent new locations were discussed.
“Are you talking about moving us twice?” Purdy asked.
“It is possible,” Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn answered.
Supervisors were also asked by DHS workers if the county would assist in the moving effort.
“I think so, we got a lot of experience in moving,” Supervisor Tommy Vaughn answered jokingly referring to the moving during renovations of the two county courthouses.
“Are we going to stay in Water Valley,” Purdy asked after a temporary space was dicussed in Coffeeville.
“It is all up in the air right now,” Supervisor Frank “Bubba” Tillman answered.
“I don’t think we have an employee from Coffeeville,” Purdy said.
“We have 90 days, and that give us time to make some good decision,” Supervisor Butch Surrette told Purdy. “We are going to work hard to get the best solution,” Surrette continued.
Hernadez told the Herald after the meeting that the new Sonic would be state-of-the-art and have more stalls for customers.
“We want to give back to the community for supporting us all these years,” Hernandez said, adding that the project would be “very expensive”. Sonic has operated out of the current building in Water Valley since the late 1970’s, according to Hernandez.
“We will start August 1, tearing down that building,” Hernandez continued.
By the first of September, work is expected to start on the new facility that should be completed later in the winter.