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Groundbreaking, reception for new health department

A groundbreaking ceremony and reception were held last Thursday, Aug. 27, for the new Crenshaw County Health Department, located next to Crenshaw Community Hospital.

Dr. Donald Williamson, State Health Officer and chairman of the Alabama Public Health Care Authority Board, said that over 50 public health departments had been built across the state over the last ten years.

“Luverne and Crenshaw County desperately needed a new building,” Williamson said. “The new building will be a state-of-the-art facility to service the people of Crenshaw County.”

“Even though the building won’t be ready to use this fall, it will still definitely be needed to deal with the H1N1 influenza virus,” he said. “Every year, every generation will have some health issue to deal with.”

Williamson thanked Rep. Charles Newton, who was present, and the Alabama Legislature for “keeping funding available” for projects such as this one.

Crenshaw County Commission Chairman Ronnie Hudson also thanked Newton as well as Sen. Wendell Mitchell for their help in getting the new facility for the county.

“The Hospital Board owned the property that this building is on, and we worked out a deal with them for the land,” Hudson said. “Our goal is to have a ‘medical campus’ here with the new health department, Crenshaw Community Hospital, DHR and Beacon’s Hospital all right here together.”

Luverne Mayor Joe Rex Sport said that he was also “very anxious” to see the new building completed.

“I know the old building was so outdated,” he said, “but the services provided are so needed here.”

Mike Lee of Dothan, the architect, said the new public health department building would be approximately 6,100 square feet and should be completed in about 7 to 8 months.

The estimated costs of just the building construction are a little over $900,000, Lee said. The building sits on a 2-acre site and will have at least 30 parking spaces on the side for patients. The space in the front of the building near Hwy. 331 would be landscaped and could be used for possible future expansion.

Lee said the new building would have a large main waiting area and also a second waiting room for patients as well.