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Avery Commissioners Developing Plans for New Department of Social Services Complex to Open in 2023

Rendering of the new Avery County DSS Building, set to open in 2023, provided by Avery County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr.

By Tim Gardner

The Avery County Department of Social Services (DSS) will be relocating its headquarters to a more spacious facility in 2023.

On a date next year still to be finalized, the Social Services Department will move from the ground level of the County Administration Building and from the Avery County Health Department in Newland to a building currently being renovated at 358 Beech Street–just a few blocks away. The move will consolidate DSS services into one building and provide much more needed space for its staff and operations.

Following recommendations from county social service and maintenance department officials and the project’s architect, who all met together to collaborate ideas and specifics for the project, the Avery Commissioners have also discussed the plans and whether to make any changes or additions they believe are needed.

The commissioners, who consist of Martha Hicks (Chairwoman), Tim Phillips (Vice-Chairman), Wood Hall (Woodie) Young, Jr., Dennis Aldridge and Blake Vance, discussed a few items a recent meeting regarding the new facility.  They include: Installing a power-operated door at the building’s entrance that can be opened with a button instead of an automatic sliding door; Determining how much more it would cost to have a metal roof instead of asphalt shingles and which would be more over-all efficient; and Exploring options for furniture for the facility once it’s ready to be occupied by the DSS staff.

The new building will double the size of the current DSS offices, according to project architect Bobby Patterson of Architectural Design Associates of Clemmons, NC.  When its renovation is completed, the new complex will house all of the county’s DSS operations. It will have 54 staff offices, compared to 44 the current headquarters operates from. Besides a waiting room reception area and restrooms, the new DSS building will have a bedroom for children or families to stay in, either overnight or for several days. Additionally, it will include large kitchen with a washer and clothes dryer, as well as a breakroom and large and small conference rooms.

Avery County DSS Building Floor Plan

“What we (county officials) are most excited about will be one to get all DSS employees and services under one roof,” Avery County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr. said.  “The other plus will be the emergency shelter with kitchen and bath to house children when the need arrives, as often it can take days to find shelter in the foster care program currently. We believe this new complex will help put Avery DSS to the forefront of services provided to our citizens.”

The County Manager added that there will be plenty of client, visitor and staff parking available at the new DSS complex.

The Commissioners are expected to discuss the new DSS facility again at their next regular monthly meeting on Monday, November 7 (beginning at 3:30 p.m.) in their Board Room at the County Administration Building.