County revamps, renames Dobson Plaza

By Jeff Linville -

DOBSON — The former Lowes Foods/Just Save building in Dobson is less than three weeks from receiving its first occupants.

That’s the word the Surry County Board of Commissioners heard this week about renovations at Dobson Plaza.

Don Mitchell, county facilities director, and contracted architect Tony Chilton appeared before the board to discuss some change orders for work at both the plaza and the historic courthouse.

One section of the structure will be ready to be occupied in July, and the rest of it will be ready by October, they informed the board.

Before anyone moves in, the board decided it was time to give the location a new name reflecting its purpose. The board voted unanimously in favor of calling it the Surry County Government Service Center.

Change order #17 will cost almost $11,000 to reroute some electrical circuits out of the area where the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be.

The next change order lists more than $4,000 for labor and materials for additional concrete work at the front entrance (involving the removal of a couple of safety bollards and filling in the holes), with another change adding almost $4,000 to put in 56 feet of curb to keep vehicles from scraping against the building going up to the tax collections drive-through window.

Adding a window to an office will add $4,600. Installing push-button handicap-accessible doors will cost $12,000.

Chairman Eddie Harris singled out change order #22 as one that needed discussion. It lists labor and materials to add a door, a full-height wall and relocating the receptionist window for offices 310 and 311.

The cost is listed as $6,336, but Mitchell said that doesn’t include the need for a security card reader to let only authorized personnel through. The cost of the reader and installation could be another $1,000 to $2,000, he guessed.

Harris said he just couldn’t see the additional cost for something that is more of a want than a need.

By a 3-2 vote, the board rejected change order #22, but approved the other five at a total cost of $35,652.60. This brings the total withdrawals from the contingency fund to about $105,000. The county had budgeted $125,000, with another $15,000 earmarked for work on the shipping docks in back.

Once the folks move into the new service center and the ag building is empty, then hopefully the building can be torn down to create space for some additional parking for the historic courthouse, said Harris. He said his gut told him years ago that the county should have kept its hands on the lot that became Dobson Square Park, but now a different space can be made available.

Courthouse work

Speaking of the courthouse, Mitchell and Chilton also brought in some changes for approval.

Adding new bulkhead and wood trim detail to the commissioners’ room that matches the first floor adds $34,800.

Removing acoustical ceilings and installing new light fixtures on the first floor adds $15,600.

Mitchell said they walked through the first floor and tried to see how many existing interior doors can be salvaged and reused. Rather than looking at adding 18-19 doors, the order is for eight doors and installation at $13,300.

An automatic door opener to an exterior entry door on the lower level adds $3,754. Altogether, this puts the total change orders to date at $160,600 of the $200,000 set aside, said Mitchell.

This has gotten the work crew through all the “musts,” so now it is about prioritizing the remaining “wants,” he said.

By Jeff Linville

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.