County eyes new public health location

Casey S. Elliott
Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The Beaverhead County Commissioners are planning to relocate the public health department closer to the courthouse, if a property purchase goes forward.

The commission unanimously approved finalizing a buy/sell agreement for the Dillon Dental Clinic at 327 E. Helena St., across the street from Beaverhead County High School.

Property owner Rhodes Land and Cattle Co. wants to sell the property for $450,000, and gave the county first dibs before putting it on the market. Dr. Justin Rhodes will be relocating his offices to a new building on Southside Boulevard with other dentists when it is finished, which is hoped to be ready in spring 2023.

The agreement includes an option for Rhodes to rent office space at the current building on a month-to-month basis if needed while he waits for the new building’s completion.

The commissioners sought a new public health location in the past few years, as the rental cost for the current space from Barrett Hospital has grown. Commissioner and Chairman Mike McGinley said if this property purchase goes forward, the county would be paying roughly the same amount annually that it does for the current location.

McGinley noted the dental clinic is wellsituated and more than large enough for public health. The hope is to also relocate county employees in some other departments to the site to free up space at the courthouse.

The purchase would partially be paid for through leftover funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act money granted to the county during the pandemic. The county intends to borrow the rest.

Commissioner John Jackson noted the dental building is handicap-accessible, which is a positive for the county. Commissioner Tom Rice said he was pleased with its size, and that it’s a newer building with fewer maintenance needs.

The commission will send a letter accepting Rhodes’ terms to buy the building, pending an appraisal, title search, inspection and other standard property purchase conditions. The commissioners authorized McGinley as chair of the commission to finalize the purchase and sign all the necessary paperwork.