MOUNT VERNON — New tenants are coming to one of Mount Vernon’s historic buildings.
The Critchfield House, part of the East High Street Historic district on the National Register of Historic Places, has seen many residents over the years, including in the last few decades the Knox County Health Department, the Freedom Center, Care-Net Pregnancy Services and county probation facilities. Soon, it will be known as the Children’s Advocacy Center.
Located across the street from the Knox County Service Center and adjacent to the Memorial Theater, the Greek-Revival brick house dates to approximately the 1840s.
The plans for renovating the structure were set into motion well over a year ago by Roger Shooter, Knox County Job & Family Services director.
“If I had to do this today, I wouldn’t do it,” said Shooter.
Although there was room in last year’s budget for such work, this year’s budget has been severely restricted by state cutbacks and the economy’s impact on county funding. The new Children’s Advocacy Center is now finished, however, and staff members will begin moving in next week. The staffers will be current county employees, including Tom Bumpus, hired last year as a Children’s Services investigator. Bumpus’ salary is paid for by the Children’s Services tax levy.
The renovations unobtrusively blend old and new, putting, for instance, compact fluorescent light bulbs in fixtures covered by old-style globes. Insulation was blown into the attic, new windows have replaced the old, and new maximum-efficiency heating and cooling systems will help make the building more cost-effective in operation. Deteriorated brick walls and damaged interior walls have been repaired and replaced where necessary.
Various rooms in the building will serve as offices and meeting spaces, as well as working areas for case aides. There is a room on the second floor which will be reserved for interviewing children during investigations. It contains cameras and microphones, clearly mounted on the walls and ceiling, for recording the interview sessions. Shooter said it may also be used for interviewing people involved in children’s cases. The equipment which operates the cameras and recording equipment is housed in a nearby office, and can be operated from that office.
The second floor also contains a physical exam room for investigations. Shooter said a memorandum of understanding was being created with Knox Community Hospital to define what sort of examinations and procedures should be in place for the exam room.
In other business, the commissioners held the final public hearing for admendments to the Regional Planning Commission’s land subdivision regulations. The first public hearing was March 12.