Work has begun on the renovation of a building that will become the Clearinghouse of Jefferson County. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Work has begun on the renovation of a building that will become the Clearinghouse of Jefferson County. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
The first phase of renovations was wrapped up Friday at the former auto parts store on Second and West streets that will be transformed into the Clearinghouse of Jefferson County.

The two-story building will serve as a one-stop shop for charity, non-profit and faith-based services. The anchoring tenant will be WorkOne.

The facility will serve 12 counties.

The purpose of the Clearinghouse is to more efficiently and effectively serve families in need in southeastern Indiana.

As part of the first wave of renovations, Southern Roofing of Columbus, Ind., replaced the facility's roof, while the city of Madison connected the building to city utilities, separated the storm and sanitary systems and installed trench drains.

Madison is under a mandate from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to separate out the storm and sanitary system on all new projects.

The cost for the roof work was about $100,000, according to Clearinghouse organizers. The cost included an entire roof replacement, wood decking replacement and insulation.

"It is critical that we start our building renovations with the roof to have the building water tight before beginning any interior renovations," Cliff Carnes, volunteer Clearinghouse steering committee member and IKE Clifty Creek plant manager, said in a news release. "The new roof and insulation will reduce our heating and cooling costs."

The total project is estimated at about $3.5 million. The project has been broken into phases to trim costs.

The Clearinghouse steering committee has raised more than $2 million in grants and pledges. The city of Madison has kicked in $150,000 for the project, while the county has contributed $100,000. The city has paid its pledge to the Clearinghouse, while the county is paying in installments, organizers said.

Since last fall, Clearinghouse organizer Molly Dodge, said the organization's steering committee has sought new avenues to reduce the overall project costs. During a County Council meeting last year, the Clearinghouse reported that public bids for an entire, all-in-one renovation were more than 20 percent of what was expected.

Following the County Council's guidance, the group met with the state historic preservation board to discuss requirements for the project. The concern was that while downtown Madison is considered a National Historic Landmark District, some felt the Clearinghouse building does not hold historical significance.

Dodge said the state board was "very receptive" in helping the organization identify ways it can take cost-cutting measures during the renovation in terms of materials needed to meet historical guidelines.

In addition to meeting with the state board, the organization also cut the project into phases, which organizers said will reduce expenses.

"Since the public bid last year, the steering committee has worked diligently with our (donors) and supporters to explore cost savings ideas, raise additional funds and retool our plans into a phased approach," said Dan Baughman, chairman of the Clearinghouse steering committee and executive vice president and secretary-treasurer of Arvin Sango. "The committee believes that by phasing-in the building renovations, we will be able to better estimate our costs and meet our budget," he said.

Dodge said the second phase of the project will focus on the food pantry, which is expected to open in March 2013 and be supported and staffed by volunteers from numerous churches participating in the Clearinghouse effort.

The second phase will include installation of an HVAC system for the pantry and appropriate plumbing and electrical systems. Restoration of the facility's windows will be included as an alternate bid within this phase. Bids will be due to the committee by Nov. 20, Dodge said.

The third phase of the project will focus on the other interior offices in the building, Dodge said, adding that there is no timeline for when the entire building will be finished.

"I want to assure the community that it's the same project, but we feel this phased approached will enable us to find cost-cutting measures and meet our budget," she said.