Construction on offices for District Court judges and their assistants will be completed next week.
Visitors to the Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center in the past week could mistakenly think the county is gearing up for a furniture auction.
Chairs and desks line the first-floor hall outside courtrooms, and stacks of books and shelves clutter the area. The temporary storage space will revert to its normal use next week, when renovations to offices for court divisions 2 and 5 are completed.
Employees with O'Brien Walls and Partitions of Kansas City, Mo., began tearing down five walls on the north side of the first floor in mid-October. Since then, new walls, carpeting, electrical equipment and paint have been added.
"We want to make optimum use of the space available," Bill Bell, Douglas County's director of building and grounds, said. "The way it was configured before, we had a lot of space that just wasn't user-friendly."
Assistants for District Court Judges Paula Martin and Jack Murphy used to sit behind a wall, and anyone unfamiliar with the layout was confused, Bell said. The assistants will be easily seen, and the empty ante-room to their offices has been converted.
Another conference room has been added; it joins the county's law library, a break room and another conference room. Martin's and Murphy's offices have been painted and carpeted.
The total cost of the project is $30,800.
Bell said the renovation has given contractors a chance to replace the current electrical system for the offices.
"All of the electric is underneath the floor, so it's just a mess when you have to run extension cords across the floor and tape them down," Bell said. "We've put more and more people, more machines, more computers and more copiers in this building, and it has drained the power."
The building, which houses all five court divisions, the police and sheriff's departments and court services, was built in 1976. The renovated offices are across the hall from the Douglas County District Attorney's Office.
-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.