By Mehgaan Jones
The Clayton Center Community Service Board, also known as the Clayton Center -- with the assistance of the county's school system and board of commissioners -- is looking for a new building for the center's administrative staff, following a fire in October.
According to Terry Cole, executive director of The Clayton Center, the fire, which occurred at the center's administration building, at 112 Broad St., in downtown Jonesboro, on Oct. 29, displaced 20 administration employees, who have been working out of the center's other locations.
"Dr. Heatley [Edmond Heatley, Clayton County's school superintendent] is trying to find us a building," Cole said. "If there is anyone who would like to give us a building, or loan us a building as a tax write-off, that would be great," he added.
Cole said that office-furniture donations are also welcome. "The board [Clayton County Board of Commissioners] is helping us financially, and they are fully aware of the need to relocate for our clients," he said.
Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services Assistant Chief Landry Merkison confirmed, Tuesday, the cause of the fire was something electrical, in the computer room, of the office. No one was injured in the blaze, which broke out late at night, while the office was closed.
Terry Cole explained that he did not know the estimated cost of damages, because state and county investigators are still determining the cost. "I believe the building is a total loss ..." said Cole. He added that he does not think the office will be reconstructed. "The fire has not affected our services to clients ... but it is a financial setback," he said.
The center has provided services for adults and children with issues, such as mental illness, substance abuse and developmental disabilities, in Clayton County, since 1989, said Cole. It is funded through the state, Medicaid, the Clayton County Board of Commissioners, and 501c3, non-profit organization funds, according to Cole.
"We could certainly run a better center, if we were back in one facility," he said.
Cole said that a restoration company, Paul Davis Restorations, is currently boarding up the facility, cleaning and recovering items, such as computers and furniture which may be restored.
"We lost e-mails for about two weeks ... It was devastating," said Cole. He added that a temporary e-mail server is finally back up and running at the center's Stockbridge Road location, in Jonesboro.
"Our goal is to find a building where we could get our administration services running, which, of course, makes our services to our consumers run better," he said.
Anyone interested in donating a building or furniture, is encouraged to contact Terry Cole, at (770) 478-2280, or (678) 414-5696.