The Central Utah Health Department will get a new place it can call its permanent home following the approval of a $325,000 bond by the Sevier County Commission, a procedure that was necessary to take advantage of a loan from the Utah Community Impact Board.

State law didn't allow the department to borrow the money, so a 25-year lease agreement was signed with the county, explained Russell Anderson, the department's business manager. Ownership of the building will be retained by the county, but the health department will be entitled to use the building as long as it wishes under what he called a "forever" lease option.The health department will make monthly payments to the county, the county in turn paying the CIB. The Public Health Services Revenue Board will finance the loan, to be amortized in 25 annual installments, free of interest.

County Clerk Steve Wall said the building will be constructed near the Emergency Medical Technicians building in Richfield, located west of the I-70 access route in the northern sector of the city. The architectural firm for the building is Talbot and Wells of St. George.

"Bids will be let April 1, and construction is expected to begin shortly after," Anderson said. "We will pay about the same amounts for rent and maintenance as we have been paying, so costs are not expected to increase. In that way, as much money as possible will continue to go into program assistance."

Completion is expected in August.

The department must vacate its present premises by April 30 so the state's Social Services agency can increase its number of employees and expand its program, the business manager said. The Division of Adult Probation and Parole has also had to leave the building and is now at the shopping plaza south of the city.

Anderson said health department officials are looking for a temporary location that can be used until the building construction is completed. "We want services to continue without interruption."

The new building will be designed to improve immunization clinics so that participants may move in and out more quickly.

Another important feature will be a laboratory for testing culinary water for communities in the area. "With the new EPA regulations, more equipment is required . . . and we want to keep the lab here," Anderson said. Water testing equipment will cost $20,000 to $30,000, he added.

The department serves Sanpete, Sevier, Juab, Millard, Piute and Wayne counties. It is independent of the Utah State Health Department but must adhere to state regulations. "The six counties got together to form the department instead of one in each county," Anderson said.

He noted state law requires counties to provide specific health services.