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— After more than two years of waiting the city will see the county Health Department return.

A satellite office of the Benton County Health Department, at 101 W. University, will hold its grand opening Sept. 21 after months of criticism and concern over the amount of time spent in getting the facility ready for the public.

On Friday contractors were putting finishing touches on the building, which will be 100 percent finished by Sept. 4, said Mike Sumrall of Sumrall Construction Co., the contractors charged with renovating the building.

The end result will be a HealthDepartmentofficethat is welcoming, warm and well put together, said Loy Bailey, county health director.

Old single-paned windows have been replaced by tinted double-paned glass donated to the project by Justice of the Peace Craig Brown. The dirty tile that once lined the building's floor has been covered with hardwood flooring laminate

and the HVAC system that many JPs worried about being functional has been replaced with a new system.

"It is really looking spiffy. It is very nice," Bailey said. "We have what we think is a very efficient and workable layout that looks very professional."

On opening day the Siloam Springs Health Department satellite office will be up and running, offering the services many on the western side of the county have had to travel to Bentonville for over the last two years, Bailey said.

The new clinic will offer immunizations, family planning and the popular Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, Bailey said.

Staffers for the Siloam Springs clinic have been training for nearly a year now and will be ready to go as soon as it opens, Bailey said.

"We have ended up with a very nice, professional and laid out facility, so it is more than we expected," Bailey said.

The Siloam Springs location is expected to see 1,500 patients each month after opening, Bailey said.

News, Pages 5 on 09/02/2009

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