Staff at the Kansas Driver’s License office on the second floor of the courthouse would like to move to another room in the building.
Shifting the office to a little-used room on the fourth floor wouldn’t have to cost much, Barton County Administrator Richard Boeckman said. But it would create a “cascade effect” as other offices also shifted to make better use of available space.
On Monday morning, county commissioners toured parts of the courthouse seldom seen by the general public to learn more about what would be involved. While the Department of Motor Vehicles has requested the move, the county has also been thinking about how to accommodate the county attorney’s office and its growing staff.
“You approved extra staff for the county attorney,” Boeckman reminded trustees.
Boeckman began by describing the DMV’s request.
“The second floor is no longer satisfactory for their needs,” he said. The counter in the driver’s license office has two stations. “They want to bring in another employee and need a bigger counter.”
The County Attorney’s Office is located on the third floor but has a conference room on the fourth floor that could hold a three-person counter. However, the large conference table would have to be moved.
The county rents space to the DMV and as a good landlord it should put in new carpet and patch the plaster on one wall, Boeckman pointed out. The rest of the expense would fall on the DMV, which would bring in its own furniture. Plastering and painting the wall could be done by county staff or possibly trustees from the jail.
But the “cascade effect” would begin with more people using the elevator. “It is an old elevator,” Boeckman noted.
Assistant County Attorney Amy Schartz Mellor is the only candidate on the November ballot for county attorney. If she does become county attorney in January, she said she hopes to hold regular meetings with law enforcement. The conference table could be shortened and moved to another room on the fourth flour, currently occupied by Environmental Manager Judy Gorham. The victim witness coordinator and a part-time support staffer could also be in that office, making room for another attorney on the third floor.
The third floor that houses the attorneys is a maze of workspace and case files. But moving attorneys to another floor would separate them from the records.
“I think it would be really inconvenient,” Mellor said.
While changes are sure to be made, Monday’s tour was only a forerunner of what will come. Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said she doesn’t want to find hidden projects that come to light after the “cascade effect” begins.
“I’d like the whole price tag,” she said.
The commissioners saw part of the courthouse that was hidden during a remodeling that happened before Boeckman came to work there in 1981. There are doors that lead to nowhere and a hidden hallway behind Courtroom A that features some unique features in bas-relief.
“The courthouse is small and it’s old, but it’s in good shape,” Boeckman said. It will be 100 years old in 2018.