Tuesday, March 29, 2016

New DHS County Offices Almost Ready

 The new Department of Human Services (DHS) and Child Support Services building in Sallisaw’s industrial park will soon be ready to open. DHS staff said there is no opening date set. Office equipment is in the process of being installed and, when completed, an opening date will be announced.

The office equipment for the new Department of Human Services office in Sallisaw has arrived and is being installed.

Ronnie Woodward, left, was the lead contractor on remodeling a building in Sallisaw’s industrial park for the Department of Human Services and Child Support Services. The building was purchased by Phil Rhoades, right, and Mike Daffin as Sequoyah Enterprises Inc., and has been leased to the DHS. The purchase and remodeling cost $2.2 million, Rhoades said.

In the near future the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) and Child Welfare will have a new home in Sallisaw.

The remodeling of an old manufacturing building in the city’s industrial park is complete. The finishing touches are underway and include installing the required technology and office equipment.

The 27,000-square-foot building was owned by the city and formerly leased to and occupied by Cellofoam North America Inc. Cellofoam relocated to another building in the industrial park, and left their old building empty and the city paying for a property that was not returning its investment.

Sequoyah Enterprises Inc., owned by Mike Daffin and Phillip Rhoades of Sallisaw, purchased the building from the city last year and began the remodeling in May.

Ronnie Woodward, lead contractor for the remodeling project, described the building when Sequoyah Enterprises took over.

“There was nothing here,” Woodward said. “There was a small office up front, but there was no ceiling, no walls, no anything.”

Now the building is an up-to-date office facility with accommodations for over 100 employees, a community room that can be used by the public, over 16 miles of computer or data cables, a modern security system, and other improvements.

“I’m kind of proud of it,” Woodward said.

Rhoades said the building and remodeling cost about $2.2 million. Sequoyah Enterprises signed a seven-year agreement with the State DHS for the Sallisaw facility.

“It’s been a long, drawn-out process,” Rhoades said, but well worth the effort. Rhoades, who at one time was a DHS social worker, said the remodeled facility will house both the DHS and Child Support Enforcement. The two agencies are now housed in two separate building on South Kerr Boulevard in Sallisaw.

The DHS staff said no opening date is set since moving to the new accommodations must wait until the office and technology equipment are installed.

Rhoades said Woodward worked with state architects on designing the building’s interior set up.

Rhoades said the new building increases the space for the offices from the present 17,000 square feet to 27,000 square feet.

It has 93 cubicles for workers, 10 interview rooms, separate offices for supervisors, a climate-controlled computer room for the 16 miles of computer cables, security cameras inside and out, a kitchen and other amenities. Employees will have their own parking lot, with 98 spaces, while the public parking lot at the front of the building has 40 spaces.

Rhoades said the remodeling job could not have been accomplished without Woodward’s help, and he will continue to oversee the maintenance of the building.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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