Grand County employees adapt as courthouse is remodeled around them |

Grand County employees adapt as courthouse is remodeled around them

Tonya Bina
Grand County, Colorado

Last week, the photocopier, scanner, computer and plotter in the office of Grand County, Colorado’s, Imaging Specialist Vanessa Villalobos were all hidden under a shield of black plastic.

Working away on her computer among the shrouds, Villalobos took it all in stride as major construction work on the level above threatened to spew ceiling debris on her head.

At least the county equipment was protected by plastic.

Her head was not.

Several weeks into a major remodeling project, county employees have been viewed as troopers.

Departments are destined to be displaced by incessant sawing and pounding and, for a while, employee parking was completely torn up.

Recently, county staff tolerated mid-construction bathroom issues and were directed to use porta-potties. It’s not the first time they’ve used such facilities with remodeling construction on the heels of Hot Sulphur Spring’s last water crisis.

Noise, dust and redirected heat have been part of the daily routine during the county’s $3 million overhaul of the Administration Building, formerly the Grand County Courthouse built in 1937.

Villalobos said that on Friday, she’s supposed to move her office somewhere else. She’ll then be moving at least once more to the new location of the mapping department.

Phased project

The remodeling project, the building’s first since the 1970s, is taking place in phases, according to Grand County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran.

To make logistics even more challenging, she said, is construction taking place during one of the largest elections the county has ever witnessed.

“Kudos to the clerk’s office,” Underbrink Curran said with conviction.

The planning, surveying and assistant attorney offices of the basement level are already relocated.

Big Valley Construction of Granby, which bid the project at $2.75 million (the county budgeted another $250,000 for new office furnishings) has taken over the upstairs level of the former judicial offices and courtrooms.

Replacing the former court level will be the county commissioners’ office, boardroom and associated offices. An employee lunchroom that won’t have to share its space with copy machines will also be upstairs ” that, and a new employee exercise room.

In another phase set to take place by next spring, the clerk and recorder’s and motor vehicles offices will move temporarily downstairs as work begins on the east end of the building, currently occupied by the manager’s and commissioners’ offices.

It is then Big Valley, following the design plans of Alan B. Carter Architect, Granby, will transform the space into an L-shaped area that will house clerk and recorder and motor vehicle functions, the bulk of the county’s customer service duties. The reception area will be much larger, Underbrink Curran said.

Eventually the planning and building departments, along with surveyor and mapping employees, will become a “one-stop shop” in the basement level.

But not before the treasurer, housing authority and assessors departments move completely downstairs while their wing is remodeled.

On top of their normal duties, a crew of four county maintenance workers has been in the business of furniture moving and storage, Underbrink Curran said.

Enhanced public convenience

With such a building project of late, county officials are hoping the redesigned aging building will provide better flow and better convenience to citizens.

One benefit of construction so far is that it has served to purge the old building of unwanteds, the manager said, such as unsafe tile adhesives and lead paint. Air was monitored during the process with results posted for employees.

And when completed, the building will have long-overdue Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility and eventually, surrounding xeriscape landscapes.

In addition, the Roofing Company, Granby, has re-roofed the administration building and sheriff building for $400,000.

New parking areas, paved Hot Sulphur Springs streets and three new fire hydrants are also part of the Grand County “campus” renewal.

Underbrink Curran said commissioners hope taxpayers can take pride in their public buildings as they ready them for the next few decades.

With county employees making offices in places like former maintenance closets, the time has come, she said.

All in all, her staff and other county service employees have been graciously tolerant.

“Everybody’s sucking it up the best they can,” Underbrink Curran said.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail

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