Leader Blues

Friday, April 24, 2009

TOP STORY >> Cabotís new health unit fully funded

By JOAN McCOY
Leader staff writer

The new health department building in Cabot is now fully funded with construction expected to begin in early June.

The Arkansas Department of Health announced Thursday that an additional $324,911 had been authorized to add to the $450,000 already set aside for the facility. It will be built in downtown Cabot on the corner of First and Elm.

The low bid of $764,911, plus $10,000 for contingencies on the 6,000 square-foot building, came from AMB General Contractors of North Little Rock, but all the subcontracts will go to Cabot companies: Steadfast Mechanical, Conrad Electric and Westlake Plumbing.

The new facility will be about five times the size of the one currently in use that was built about 25 years ago before Cabot started to grow.

Since the lot is small, Cabot architect Bob Schelle has designed the new building to attach to the old post office that was used for many years as the city water department. The metal-frame building will have a veneer of period brick to blend with others in the area.

Cabot applied for the new health unit in 2007.

Health Department officials said they needed a larger facility to allow for expanded services for women and children and to place more emphasis on communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, which is making a comeback.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams wanted the new facility downtown to help ensure the continued stability of that area. If the health unit is downtown, more doctors and pharmacies are likely to locate downtown as well, he said.

Also, the new facility will be within walking distance of the high school and the homes of many elderly residents who might need the services it will provide.

Milton Garris, administrator over all three health units in Lonoke County, said Friday that Lonoke County Judge Charlie
Troutman will be in charge of the funds to build the new health unit.

But once it is completed, it will be turned over to the city, which will be responsible for maintenance.