OXFORD — A satellite office for Granville County’s Department of Social Service is at least one step closer to reality, thanks to a recent decision by the County Commissioners.

During a meeting earlier this month, Commissioner Jimmy Gooch moved that the board “authorize the county staff to negotiate a lease subject to the approval by the Board of Commissioners for 9,600 square feet in the Dutch Village commercial area” near Butner to provide a satellite space for social services.

Commissioner Tony Cozart seconded the motion, which was approved.

“This is something that has desperately been needed in the southern part of the county,” Commissioners Chairwoman Sue Hinman said, adding that DSS’ existing offices are “almost as small as the Pentagon’s offices” and don’t have enough space in them for social distancing.

The Dutch Village site is off Interstate 85 on N.C. 56, in a shopping center next to a Food Lion, County Manager Mike Felts said.

He and other administrators said pandemic-related restrictions combined with a budding need for a satellite office to prompt them to “seek out opportunities.”

“As I think most everybody knows, we have been working diligently for a number of years on trying to find some additional space, especially having some satellite office space for social services in the southern part of the county,” Felts said.

About a decade ago the county remodeled the Social Services building on Spring Street. Even then, it “was noted as a critical need” to extend the department’s ready in southern Granville County and supply it with additional space, Felts said.

With COVID-19s arrival, there now “an enhanced need” to have “critical office space” for social services, Felts said.

The county staff has identified side-by-side suites in the building that can accommodate 20 to 30 offices, a reception area, rest rooms, small and large conference rooms, and other work areas.

The estimated annual lease payment for the space is $108,192, and preliminary estimates suggest it should take about $950,000 for its fit-up.

Finally, expect a fully fledged list of services at a potential satellite site.

Commissioner David Smith asked Felts whether the office would “include all the programs or aspects of DSS.” The manager responded that prior discussions have envisioned that “this would be “a full service social services satellite office.”

In other words, “clients could either come to this office or go to the office in Oxford and obtain the same level of services,” Felts said. “So it would be full service.”

The vote came in the same meeting county staff received permission to extend the lease for a temporary DSS facility for three to six months.