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Healthy Communities to create health center

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

Healthy Communities of Clinton County Coalition announced that it is applying for a USDA Community Facilities Loan in order to buy the First Baptist Church at 301 S. Columbia St. with the intention of converting it into a community service building.

“Our goal is to have a community service building there with lots of organizations in one location. We know transportation is a huge issue for a lot of our clients,” Lorra Archibald, executive director of HCCCC said at Tuesday's county commissioners meeting. “We are getting ready to submit the loan application. So, we have our environmental done, our inspection is done. So, we are just waiting on people to give us the stuff that we need to submit the application. We are getting very close.”

Archibald says having multiple organizations under the same roof has been a dream of sorts for those at HCCCC for a while now, and now the opportunity is there to make it a reality.

“IU (Health) is going to be build where we currently are, so we are going to lose that space,” Archibald said. “When that happened, we started looking for new space. The Baptist church doesn't use most of that building now, so they were looking to downsize. But, they wanted the building to serve the community like it has for over 100 years.

“Our director of operations is an associate minister there,” she added. “They were looking for somebody to buy the building who would use it to serve the community. They didn't want to leave a building that has meant a lot of things to a lot of families to be left sitting there. We were looking for a building. Since it was that big of a building, we decided that we can make this vision and dream that we have always had of having a community health center come true.”

Archibald received a letter of support for the idea by the commissioners Tuesday morning. Eight days earlier, Carol Price received a letter of support from the Frankfort City Council.

Instead of coordinating with partners currently housed in separate locations, HCCCC may now be able to provide one-stop assistance for many members of the community. Archibald says possible future tenants she would like to see in the building include the health department and the immunization clinic.

“We would love to have some sort of Title 10 reproductive, family planning clinic,” she said. “And we are looking at mental health providers.”

Then there would be office space that could house different services on different days of the week.

“A lot of our partners serve Clinton County but have offices out of the county and could really use just one office space in Clinton County to see clients in,” Archibald said. “We would have different offices open that people could rotate in and out of. Then we would have a community room in what is now the sanctuary. It would be an auditorium that people in the community could use.

“It is the first time we have done a USDA loan, but our hope is to be in there this fall and then we will start getting the other people in,” she added.