Houston County commissioners approved a plan to buy the Five Star Credit Union building located next to the county administrative building where the Houston County Sheriff’s Office will eventually be housed.
At Monday’s commission meeting, commissioners discussed concerns from the public regarding the purchase before approving the resolution. Some residents wanted the Sheriff's Office to relocate to the Houston County Farm Center; however Commission Chairman Mark Culver said the farm center is not equipped to house the department, and noted it would be more costly to erect a new building on that land than to buy the Five Star property.
“We talked to a contractor today and if we were to build that space in today’s market we’d be looking at about $5 million,” Culver said. “We’re purchasing this building and the parking for $2.2 million. We feel like to address the sheriff’s needs it is a good and viable option.”
Culver also reiterated the commission’s commitment to downtown Dothan. Jamie Bienvenu, executive director at Dothan Downtown Redevelopment Authority, spoke about the benefits of this purchase.
“This is bigger than the relocation of the Sheriff’s Department,” Bienvenu said. “We’ve had multiple studies show that we need to bring the central business district more concentrated back to downtown. We need to keep Five Star downtown since they cater to the communities within walking distance. If they were to vacate, we would lose that connection with the local surrounding communities.”
In a Facebook post on Monday, Sheriff Donald Valenza offered his support of the purchase saying that the department had outgrown its current facility, which was built in 1938.
“I feel the purchase of the Five Star Credit Union would be very sufficient for a department our size for at least the next hundred years,” Valenza said in the post. “This may not seem like a wise purchase to most, but if you look at this department size now it would be sufficient for the Houston County Sheriff’s office to continuously grow.”
In other county business, the following items were also approved:
• Request to appoint Melanie Hill and reappoint Brad Kimbro to the Dothan-Houston County Library System Board.
• Request to authorize finance agreement for budgeted item, two backhoes, for the Road and Bridge department.
• Request to authorize finance agreement for budgeted item, a crew cab truck for the Road & Bridge department.
• Request to authorize finance agreement for budgeted item, Low Boy tractor for the Road & Bridge department.
• Request to sell on GovDeals: 2003 Ford Explorer and miscellaneous office supplies from probate office and the Road and Bridge department.
Sydney McDonald is a Dothan Eagle staff writer and can be reached at email@example.com or 334.712.7906. Support her work and that of other Eagle journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at dothaneagle.com.