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Saturday August 1st, 2015 5:45AM

DFCS handrails, new sign, blinds still not in place in Habersham

By Rob Moore Reporter
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CLARKESVILLE - For months, the Habersham County Division of Family and Children Services Board has heard that safety improvements will be made at the DFCS office in Clarkesville.

Monday morning, the board received an update on those projects.

Holly McShane, chairman of the DFCS board, said she has continued to receive community concerns about aspects of the DFCS facility renovation, but didn't know who needed to hear those concerns. She contacted Habersham County Commission Chairman Chad Henderson with those items.

"Basically, the specific concerns were just the updates on the sign, the guardrails, and the clearing of those trees out there," McShane said.

McShane said Henderson forwarded the concerns to County Manager Janeann Allison, who responded to McShane with a thorough email.

Allison's email details progress with projects such as replacement of stoops and handrails on the steps and ramps where the public accesses the building, replacement of the DFCS sign, and removal of trees between the building and Historic Highway 441.

Because there have been no handrails for some time in front of the building, "I have been given permission to fund this project immediately," Allison's email states. "I will be working with our building and grounds staff along with our consultant and board to see if there is a way around the bid process for this project. If not, we will be required to publish the bid for four weeks prior to even getting started on the project. We are required to formally bid any project over $10,000 and we estimate this project to be approximately $22,000-plus."

"The replacement of stoops and railings were not funded with the large project for this year and were planned to be included in the upcoming budget but I have requested permission from the BOCC (board of county commissioners) and they have told me to move ahead with the project," Allison's email states. "Our purchasing policy gives very specific direction on how we have to proceed with projects. We have been working within those guidelines. Unfortunately, sometimes our requirements tend to hold up projects a bit."

The email states the county received quotes for tree removal last week, and those trees should be removed in the next several weeks.

"We are required to get three quotes prior to proceeding with any project over $500," Allison's memo states. "It is estimated that the removal of trees will be approximately $3,000-plus."

Allison's email states the county is waiting on "all of the quotes to come in" on the replacement sign.

"I will check with our buildings and grounds staff to see if we can just put the old back up until the new sign has been made," the email states.

"I don't know that she's aware that it's already been done," McShane said. "I guess some community people did that."

"I can assure you we are working towards solutions and towards finishing all of the work at DFCS," the email states. "I will let you know more specific timelines as soon as I have them."

Asked by Habersham County Commissioner Andrea Harper, who regularly attends DFCS board meetings, about the status of window blinds for the building, McShane said she failed to ask about those.

For months now, the staff has used butcher paper taped into the windows to block sunlight.
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