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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Department moves to new site

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Barry Cook, administrator of the Scott County Health Department, assembles a new book shelf.
SIKESTON - For some, moving is a bittersweet experience - but not for the Scott County Health Department's Sikeston office.

"We won't miss the old facility at all," said Barry Cook, administrator of the Scott County Health Department. Having been with the department for 15 years, Cook became administrator about four years ago.

The Health Department has been at the 919 East Malone Ave. location since around 1995.

"We've been in Sikeston probably for 20 years," Cook said. "This will be our fourth location in Sikeston. We started out over on Murray Lane years ago and then we were by the Piggly Wiggly on the west end of Malone."

After paying rent for years, it will be nice to finally have their own building. "The logical solution was to build a building at some point," Cook said, adding that the department had always planned to build their own facility eventually. "It's just finally came about."

The department's 20 employees have been boxing and moving everything they could since Monday.

"We've been moving hard for a week. We started taking things out of closets we forgot we had," Cook said. "Today we do have a crew in moving desks and filing cabinets - stuff that we could not move ourselves."

"We're very excited - the new building is beautiful and we hope the public enjoys our new facility as well," said Amy Whitten, a secretary who has been with the Health Department for seven years.

As far as she can tell, there is no downside to the move other than the work involved.

"We're putting up stuff constantly," she said. "We're a little tired but everything's going really well."

The new building is located at 102 Grove Estates Court off North Main.

Bridger Construction of Sikeston was selected to build the facility after submitting the low bid of $990,000.

"We've done the final punch - there's always some small things that need to be done but we're moving in," said Cook.

The smell of a new building will be a refreshing change for both employees and clients.

"In Sikeston we've never been in a new facility. We've just made due with the way the building was," Cook noted. For the new building, "we laid it out the way we wanted for efficient use and to be a nicer place for clients," Cook said.

The Scott County Health Department was established in the 1950s, according to Cook. The department's Benton office was built new in the 1960s. "It was the hub for the Health Department for years," he recalled.

The Department opened the Sikeston office due to "the density of the population in this part of the county," according to Cook. "A lot of health departments don't have a second facility but it's pretty much a necessity here."

There are several advantages to the new place.

"For one thing, the new building will be more efficient - a nicer facility for the clients," Cook said. "And we'll save rent of course, and also on utilities since it's a new building."

With the lot being just under three acres, there's not a whole lot of room left "but there is enough room for future expansion if that was every necessary," Cook said.

One of the nicest features of the new location will be adequate parking.

"Parking was always a problem at both of our old places on busy days - clinic days or when we have flu shots for the elderly," Cook recalled. "We hope we've alleviated that problem at least."

If there's any downside at all, it would be getting used to not having any reserves now that the building fund has been spent. "There was always that cushion for hard times that won't be there," Cook said.

Cook said they hope to have phones and computers set up today, but Health Department clients will have to use the Benton facility until next week.

"We won't be back open for business until Monday," Cook said. "The phone numbers will stay the same."

Cook said participants in the Women, Infants and Children program should take note of the move as well, being a part of the Health Department.

"Some of our clients just think of us as one or the other," Cook said. "WIC is one of our larger programs."

Cook said the Health Department is used by a wider and larger part of the community than most people realize. "A lot of people use the health department," he said.

"It's a great building. It's been a long time coming and we're going to enjoy it I think," Cook said. "It's going to be good for the employees and good for the customers."