Health Department annex dedicated to Clark

From Staff Reports

   A new addition to the Carter County Health Department was dedicated Friday to County Executive Truman Clark. Local politicians and health officials say the new annex would not have become a reality without the time, thought and energy devoted to it by Clark over the past three years.
   State Representative Ralph Cole and Senator Rusty Crowe were both present for Friday's dedication.
   "There is no doubt that this building is properly named," said Cole. "If it wasn't for Truman Clark, this building would not be here. And I am certain there is not a better health department facility anywhere in the state."
   The Truman Clark Health Education Center, a 7,200 square foot addition to the existing Carter County Health Department Building on East G Street, was first envisioned three years ago as a learning center for mothers involved in the federal WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program, said Health Department Director Dwain Austin.
   As the project progressed, Clark and others began to consider additional purposes the building could serve, including use as an emergency shelter and as meeting a place for local health, rescue, and law enforcement officials.
   Austin said he has been working on attaining a grant to equip the building with telecommunications equipment so local officials will be able to communicate with state universities and with the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
   Fred Adams, director of the Northeast Tennessee Regional Health Office, said that Clark's energy truly was the impetus behind construction of the new building.
   "Truman was the real project manager," said Adams. "You could just about guarantee that he would be here at the health department at least three times a day -- morning, noon and night -- checking to make sure everything was being done right."
   Jerry Gastineau, Chairman of the Carter County Board of Health, said that Clark and others involved in constructing the new building should be lauded for their foresight and timing in working to meet the community's health care needs.
   "It is truly amazing," said Gastineau. "In the economic environment we are now in -- with resources dwindling every day -- this building could not have been built today."
   While others were praising the county executive, Clark had his own thanks to give.
   Clark said that the county and city would not have been able to complete the project without the help of Highway Department Superintendent Jack Perkins, County Planner Chris Schuettler, Courthouse Maintenance Supervisor Russell Kyte, and members of the Northeast Tennessee Correctional Center.
   "County government can't work without cooperation," said Clark. "And these guys all know how to cooperate."
   The entire building was built by laborers from the prison, Clark said.
   "This building simply could not have been built without the cooperation of everyone at the correctional institution," said Clark. "There just would not have been enough money to do it."
   Clark said that the final cost of the annex would be close to $400,000 -- roughly half of what it would have cost had the county used contract labor.
   Clark said that it was important to remember that, though the new building is complete, the project is far from finished.
   "The health of the people is very important. And we need to remember that there are people who just can't afford the care they need. That's really what this project has been about, making good health care available to the public."