HOLLIDAYSBURG - Don't look for Blair County commissioners on the first floor of the courthouse.
Their offices are now on the fourth floor, not far from the main elevator and stairway.
The recent move, followed by the controller's office moving to the area commissioners vacated, is part of domino-style relocation project that will eventually put the sheriff's department on the first floor, close to the main entrance.
Mirror photos by Patrick Waksmunski
Chief Clerk Helen Schmitt shows the Blair County commissioners’ new conference room.
Commissioners are happy with the beginning of the transition. Renovations to a portion of the fourth floor provided them with an improved office layout, a conference room, shelving and closer access to Finance Director Robert Kuntz, they said.
Controller Richard J. Peo said he and his staff are happy with the move because it provided them with more space.
County Treasurer Jim Carothers is not sure when he and his office staff will move.
"The controller's office needs to be remodeled and cleaned first," Carothers said. "And we have to figure out what is going to go where. The size of that area is about 60 percent of what we have here."
Commissioners started discussing office relocation ideas in late 2011 with the goal of moving the sheriff's department to the first floor, close to the front door where deputies screen visitors and down the hall from the holding cell where inmates wait on court proceedings.
Original plans called for moving Carothers and Peo's offices to the fourth floor and consolidating them, which drew protests from both elected officials.
Carothers also said his office should be on the first floor for the convenience of the public coming there for hunting, fishing and dog licenses. While his office will remain on the first floor after moving to the controller's former office, Carothers said the architect's plans show only a small reception area, which might mean some visitors have to wait in the hallway.
Peo said the county set aside $31,300 in a bond issue for the office relocation project.
About $26,600 has been spent so far, which included about $15,000 for Patrick Baechle's architectural work, Peo said. The remainder covered fourth-floor renovation materials, such as drywall, paint and related supplies, but no labor because the county's highway crews handled most tasks.
"Our county crews did a fantastic job," Commissioner Ted Beam Jr. said. "They built the walls; they did the painting. They did a lot."
Purchasing Agent Deb Wyland acquired a conference table and chairs from the Van Zandt VA Medical Center that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs made available to governmental agencies at no charge.
"I think that conference table would be valued at about $750," Wyland said. "I was able to get it, plus some office chairs, shelving units and work stations for one of the district magistrate offices. They didn't charge us anything, and it worked out really well for us."
Meanwhile, the county's large, round, American-made Seth Thomas clock that has long been a part of the commissioners' office is now part of the controller's office.