DHS officials and employees and Kemper County officials celebrated the new DHS building with an official ribbon cutting on Monday morning.

Photo by Austin Bishop
DHS officials and employees and Kemper County officials celebrated the new DHS building with an official ribbon cutting on Monday morning. Photo by Austin Bishop
By Austin Bishop

Kemper County Messenger



Kemper County Board of Supervisors president Johnny Whitsett said the new home of the Mississippi Department of Human Services in DeKalb is just an example of the upgrades to services and facilities the board is dedicated to bringing to the community.

"People wonder what we are doing with the money from the coal mine, well this is just an example," Whitsett said on Monday morning, just moments before the ribbon was cut on the new facility located on Ponderosa Avenue near the City Park in DeKalb. "Things don't just happen over night. We knew they needed a new facility and we felt like this was something that needed to be done. We appreciate all they (DHS) do for the community and the services they provide."

The 5,300 square foot building was built by TerryMark Construction of Meridian at a cost of $898,000, which will be financed over a 15-year period and took a year to be completed.

"The board of supervisors commitment to the county and the commitment to the individuals we serve is tremendously important," said John Davis, executive director of the department of human services for the state of Mississippi. "We have a great relationship with the board. A building like this means that the constituency has an opportunity to be served at an even greater level. We appreciate that."

The new facility features a larger, upgraded lobby, as well as a lot of space for the workers that deal directly with the public at the entrance. There is also a large amount of dedicated parking to the building.

It features two wings with offices and meeting areas, including an up-to-date visitation area/playroom for parents and children.

"This allows them to be comfortable when they interact," said Janet Key, director of the local facility since 2005.

Key said the reaction from the public, once they realize the offices have been moved form their former location near the old hospital, has been outstanding. She also noted that staying in the old facility while waiting for the right type of facility was to be built was the right plan.

"They love it," she said of the constituents. "It was definitely worth the wait. Everything is nice. We are still close to everything and the hospital is right across the road."

Both Key and Davis also said it has brought a new energy to the already efficient staff at the local DHS office.

"When you move from a facility that is 60, 70 years old, it lifts morale and encourages them to reach an even higher standard," Davis.

"It's a boost to morale," Key said. "Everybody is happy here."