County annex in process of remodel
If you're looking for a county office in October, you might want to call ahead. The Jefferson County Courthouse Annex is in the process of a major renovation that has shifted some offices around.
The Jefferson County Clerk's Office has temporarily relocated across the street to 169 NE Seventh St., human resources has moved back to the annex, and the County Commission is meeting in the Public Health Department Conference Room, at 715 SW Fourth St., through October.
The annex, at 66 SE D St., which was gutted and remodeled in 2001 to make room for several county offices — including the clerk's office, the assessor's office, and the County Commission offices and meeting room — was due for some work, according to County Administrator Jeff Rasmussen.
Carpeting was bubbling up, tile in the main hallway was showing its age, and the flooring and counters in the bathrooms needed to be replaced.
But it was the need for a private office space for human resources that made the remodel more pressing.
"When we tore down the old courthouse, the only space that didn't go to the new courthouse or the Goodson Building was human resources, so we moved human resources across the street, to buildings and grounds," said Rasmussen.
"After (human resources manager) Mike Troop's retirement, we consolidated some staff positions, and the position was more conducive to being located in the Finance Department in the annex building, but there was no private space," he explained.
So, the county is remodeling what is now the clerk's office, but will become the finance department, to include a small office for the new human resources manager, Megan Hansen, who will also work in accounting. The office will be accessed through the north side door to the annex.
County officials decided that, with their stable workforce of about 130 employees, they didn't need a full-time person in human resources. "We feel that a lot of the human resources work we have is ingrained in payroll and benefits, which are mainly a finance duty," said Rasmussen. "We're doing more with less."
In addition to Hansen, the finance department includes the county finance director and treasurer, Brandie McNamee, tax collector Debbie Palmer, and Tami Kepa'a.
The three-person clerk's office, which includes County Clerk Kathy Marston, Kate Zemke and Carol Fuller, will move into the space which currently contains the finance department.
"The glass is coming out and the counter is going to get a cutout for ADA, for access for voter registration, and to be able to help multiple people at once," said Rasmussen.
"When finance goes to the larger space, they'll inherit a larger counter, and can help more than one person at a time, especially at tax time, when there's usually a line," he said, adding that the clerk's counter is already accessible to wheelchairs.
"I think it's going to be a better space for us," said Palmer, referring to the former clerk's office. "We interact a lot more with the assessor's office than the clerk's office, so we'll be able to hear conversations with taxpayers. It will be easier to interact with taxpayers."
The assessor's office will remain between the finance department and the clerk's office. While the restrooms are closed, port-a-potties and a hand-washing station have been located outside.
Marston, whose office will remain across the street for the remainder of the month, also believes it will be a good move. "I don't think it's going to have an impact on us," she said. "There's a little less space, but our customers should not be impacted."
The county went out to bid on the project three times, in order to get what commissioners consider a single, reasonable bid, Rasmussen said. The first time, the county received only one bid, for $250,000.
"We said we can wait," he recalled. "We took some things out, and went out to bid again, and got zero bids."
The county waited a little longer, and then tried again, and received a single bid once again, but this time, the bid was more in line with what the county had anticipated.
The county awarded two contracts: one to Kellcon Construction, of Bend, for construction, in the amount of $57,311, and the other, for carpeting and flooring from Fabulous Floors, of Bend, for $45,900. The total project is expected to cost $103,301.
The project got underway on Sept. 19, and by contract, must be complete by Oct. 25.