There’s some big changes going on at the Oneida County courthouse. One department has moved out, some have relocated and many are getting more space and a remodel. Much of this is due to the space relinquished by the health department when they moved to the second floor of the Oneida County Department on Aging building last year.
“We did a survey of all the department heads and asked what changes could be made to make their spaces more efficient,” Lu Ann Brunette, building and grounds facilities director said. “One of the more crucial spaces was the veteran’s office.”
While a lot of the remodeling is still ongoing, a renovation to a portion of the former health department space is now home to the veteran’s office. Freshly painted and carpeted, it is a very welcoming, but more importantly it now has private rooms for interviews.
“In the old office, visitors could hear people being interviewed and a lot of those interviews should be confidential,” Lu Ann said. “Incomes and medical histories are just a part of the interview process so we needed office space where doors could be shut and privacy protected.”
Now the veteran’s area boasts a cozy waiting area as well as a receptionist office. Tammy Walters, veterans administrator, also has a separate office.
Next door to the former veteran’s office is the county clerk’s space which is slated to expand into the veteran’s offices. Mary Bartelt, county clerk, will move her office there and this is the spot where election supplies will be stored. This will also be the place where county supervisors can pick up their mail and marriage licenses will be applied for.
“Right now we have three people in a very small open spot with no doors which means there’s no privacy,” Mary said. “By moving my office into this new space, there will be more room in that office and we really need that especially when we have an election. There’s always so much paperwork involved with that.”
Another remodel that is in process is a courtroom on the first floor. This was also space formerly occupied by the health department. There is a courtroom currently on the first floor, but it is very small and did not meet security measures required by the Supreme Court.
The new courtroom will have an attorney/client office space, an office for visiting judges, and a judicial assistance room. In addition, it will be wired for more advanced technology and LED lighting. This particular courtroom will also be handicap accessible, even for disabled witnesses or plaintiffs. Security measures will also be implemented according to Supreme Court rules.
“They are requiring this of all courtrooms now,” Lu Ann said. “It’s about protecting not only judges but also those in the courtroom as well.”
The former first floor courtroom will be remodeled so that the social services department (which was formerly in the basement) will have a bigger reception area and there will also be space made into a copier room.
Also in this area a remodel was done to house the county coroner and medical examiner, Larry Mathein’s, office. Formerly that was stationed in a small cubilcle in Lu Ann’s office.
“This is another area where we really needed to get Larry his own space,” Lu Ann said. “There are a lot of confidential issues handled in that office as well.”
New boilers are also slated to be replaced within the next six months.
“One boiler does not work and we can’t get parts for it anymore,” Lu Ann said. “The other three have exceeded their life span. New ones will also be much more efficient.”
The total amount budgeted for the hearing/courtroom remodel is $60,000 and the veterans remodel cost almost $11,000. All remodeling projects are slated to be completed by October 2014.
“We’re always working to make things more efficient and more secure for the employees and those coming to the courthouse for business,” Lu Ann said. “We feel these changes will be a big step in that direction.”