OSAGE | Mitchell County Public Health/Home Health Administrator Melissa Smith, again met with the Mitchell County Board of Supervisors, to continue the discussion on lack of space in the current county services building.

During the Tuesday, Jan. 30 board of supervisors meeting, Smith had stated there was no staff lounge in the building. The room, where they (nurses) were supposed to administer vaccinations and visit with clients, had supplies and boxes on the exam tables and dishes in the sink, as well as food on the counters, as staff had no place else to eat, except at their desks.

“Because of additional staff, we trip over each other,” Smith said.

She added she had been under the impression some of the offices on the east side of the building were being vacated. Smith had also proposed taking over the food bank space, putting offices in the space, in order to accommodate the needs of her workers and clients.

“Should the food bank say 'No, we’re not moving,' who has the final say on if we’re moving?” asked Royce Tack, food bank volunteer. “When the building was built, that space was designated for the food bank and needs to be kept that. The 501(c) and bank accounts are in Leo’s name, and no one else’s, so we have a little bit of power there. Where we are at is the perfect space for what we need to do. If we have to move, the feeling is that it will close. Not to say someone can’t take it over, but it would close as we know it. “

Prior to moving into the county services building, the food bank was previously located at the Plaza, before it was sold.

“The space was designated for the food bank,” said food bank director Leo Chisholm, when contacted about the suggested move. “I told Joel Voaklander in no uncertain terms we’re not moving. We don’t have any extra space. If the county wants to run the food bank, then I’ll give up my 501(c) and get out of it.”

In listening to the needs of social services and the food bank, Smith proposed leaving things as they were, but rather, complete renovations on the public health side, so that there would be walls and private offices. Spaces would then be more functional. In addition, the clinic could be used as a clinic, while a separate room could be structured as a joint break room for both sides to use. Having toured the offices in Chickasaw County, Smith saw, while their offices were smaller than the ones in Mitchell County, the space was more functional, giving her the idea that remodeling had greater potential.

“The private offices are needed by vocational rehabilitation and DHS, as well” said county social services director Megan Taets. She also expressed her concerns regarding switching sides with the county health department.

“There is a stigma to coming to these offices and meeting with people,” she said. “Lots of people are conflicted, and some even come to the east side entrance for privacy. Crisis intervention is there four times a week.”

While concerns were raised about how to continue working during a remodel, suggestions were made to use the conference space and empty offices during a five- to six-week remodel, which would also keep costs down, in regards to moving, wiring and phone lines.

“Initially, I made my proposal, because I thought the other side of the building was being vacated,” said Smith. “I was being conscientious about the costs of a remodel.”

Having toured the space, Voaklander spoke about the chaos, and the number of people on the phone or talking at the same time in the open space.

“I don’t see how anything gets done in there,” he said.

The supervisors suggested moving ahead with plans for a remodel, first having someone draw up ideas for how the open space could be partitioned into offices, especially considering the spaces One Vision occupies has been allocated to them for a year.