BY CINDE INGRAM ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER Updated

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GUILFORD COUNTY — Opening a Family Justice Center in High Point to serve victims of domestic violence and elder abuse moved a step closer to becoming a reality on Thursday.

Four members of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners who serve on its Family Justice Center subcommittee voted unanimously to recommend the full board consider proceeding with plans for a High Point expansion. The recommended location in the Guilford County Courthouse in downtown High Point has been vacant for several years since civil and criminal court clerk offices moved to the first floor. Subcommittee members Carlvena Foster, Hank Henning, Kay Cashion and Alan Perdue have visited the space as well as other possible Guilford County properties.

“To begin with, I was very hesitant about the courthouse, but after going and looking at it, I really think it’s the ideal spot for us,” Cashion said.

Foster, a commissioner from High Point, made the motion to approve the recommendation. “I’m ready to move forward,” Foster said. “I think that’s the way we ought to be moving.”

The cost of renovating the space and providing a new entrance and dedicated parking space for clients should be covered by the $500,000 the High Point City Council set aside for the project,

“We’re hopeful we can get all the work done for $500,000 or less,” said County Manager Marty Lawing. “Our goal is to get all of that done within that dollar amount.”

During its next work session, set for 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14, the commissioners will consider making a $50,727 budget amendment to cover the costs of advertising for a High Point client services coordinator, with the intent of hiring in January 2018, as well as advertising for the High Point administrative assistant and navigator positions to be hired by May 2018. The board also will be asked to authorize staff to contract up to $30,000 for design and engineering services. The projected timeline calls for construction and space preparation to be finished by August 2018, with a September grand opening.

Catherine Johnson, director of the Family Justice Center that has operated in downtown Greensboro for two years, estimated the High Point center’s annual cost will be $188,000. That covers costs of three staff positions, minimal office supplies and funding for training. The staff would be trained in Greensboro so “we’re all working from the same framework and model,” Johnson said.