SIOUX CITY | Nineteen employees from Woodbury County's Social Services Department will have a new office location this summer.

Social Services will move into the Veterans Affairs Commission building, at 1211 Tri-View Ave., in June. They will share the space with three Veterans Affairs employees.

Social Services oversees delivery of services to low-income residents with mental illness, as well as intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Director Patty Erickson Puttmann said the majority of their clients usually don't visit the office. The county's case managers travel to meet clients and providers for roughly two-thirds of their job duties.

But for those clients who do need to come to the office, the new location will be more accessible as it's on the city bus route. Currently, clients have to walk the few blocks to the courthouse from the downtown bus terminal.

"It's an excellent location," she said.

The county will pay $231,200 to modernize the county-owned building, about 1.5 miles southwest of the downtown Woodbury County Courthouse, where most departments are housed.

The Veterans Affairs workers moved out of the courthouse in 2010.

"Since relocating to Tri-View, we have tried to make our office a welcome place for veterans and their dependents to visit for assistance with a variety of veterans issues," Veterans Affairs Director Danielle Dempster said.

She said veterans have embraced the non-courthouse location, because there are no downtown parking meters and elderly patrons can avoid downtown traffic.

"It is a lot more accessible for our clients. We like being in this building," Dempster said. "Our walk-in business has basically tripled since we moved out of the courthouse."

The planned renovations include office improvements, heating and cooling modernization, and parking lot work.

The two departments will be kept separate from each other in the new arrangement. Social Services will occupy about four-fifths of the 5,290-square-foot building.

"Veteran Affairs and Social Services serve different purposes, but we all work for Woodbury County's taxpayers," Dempster said.

The Tri-View Building was constructed in the 1970s and the county purchased the structure in 2009. The Woodbury County Board on Tuesday selected the low bid of $231,102 from Global Engineering, of Sioux City. That included a base bid of $228,000, plus an additional $3,102 for painting the exterior of the building.

One week ago the board received base bids ranging from $228,000 to $302,000.

Renovations last year had been estimated to cost $295,643, but in January board members said $400,000 could be needed. The much lower bid was praised by the board members on Tuesday.

The department is moving from cramped basement offices in the courthouse. The workers are temporarily housed on the eighth floor, pending the June move.

James Van Bruggen, executive director of the Taxpayer Research Council in Sioux City, told the board the project should not be undertaken. Van Bruggen said there is sufficient space in the Woodbury County Courthouse, where Social Services is now located.

"We had a crowding factor in our Social Services that we can't alleviate in the Courthouse," said board member Larry Clausen, of Sioux City.

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County and education reporter

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