In new public office building for county, some floors private |

In new public office building for county, some floors private

It’s called a “plaza,” by definition a public square, but public access to the new Garfield County Courthouse Plaza in Glenwood Springs will be closely monitored.

So closely that an informal media visit on Monday, the facility’s first full day of operation, was cut short when a reporter was barred from third and fourth floors, which house the Department of Social Services.

The building houses the offices of the county commissioners, finance, county attorney, and building and planning departments, as well as the county administrator and director of operations offices.

Access to the Department of Social Services is limited due to the private nature of the agency’s business and confidentiality required by employees.

As with the former county offices, located directly across the street from the plaza in the Garfield County Courthouse, citizens who have business to conduct can visit the appropriate offices, where they are greeted and assisted by employees.

But access to Social Services and other specified areas is limited to county and other authorized personnel, who gain entry by way of a security card, and to approved visitors.

County employees spent the weekend moving furniture, records, personal items and equipment into the new, four-story, 23,000-square-foot building in order to open to the public on Monday.

Much of the moving was completed by Monday, but stacks of boxes, file cabinets and empty bookshelves in hallways indicated that some work remained before the transition is complete.

“I think it’s a nice space,” said Colleen Wilson, whose cubicle, designated office No. 105, is located on the first floor in the finance office. “I don’t mind it. Cubicles are OK with me,” she said.

The finance department completed most of its move over the weekend, and it was business as usual, said Wilson.

The move “went quite well, all things considered,” said Dale Hancock, operations director, as he made his way through a second-floor hallway lined with empty boxes.

He said the move included some “natural bumps and bruises,” like when the elevator stopped cold on Saturday. A call to Thyssen Elevator, followed by a quick response from company employees, helped keep everything running smoothly, he said.

Workender Program inmates provided much of the labor over the weekend, said Hancock. Workenders are authorized, low-risk inmates who work in teams on community projects. They will continue to be a part of the move and subsequent cleanup, said Hancock.

Building and planning director Mark Bean’s department was a bit disheveled. The department’s conference room looked more like a storage area and empty boxes were piling up outside the reception area. “Some things were moved over that weren’t expected yet,” he said. But progress was steady.

The department, which employs 10 people, won’t have much more space in the new facility in which to pack its cumbersome files filled with documents. But once everything is in place, Bean said, it will be more organized than the old space.

Bean said the department is also working on a project to record as many files as possible on CD-ROM. Once that’s complete, records will take up less space and be easier to access.

Social Services was previously located at the Mountain View Building, just south of Valley View Hospital. That building allowed the department only 8,000 square feet of room in which to operate, said Hancock. The new facility offers 11,400 square feet.

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