The Dickinson County Courthouse is closed today (Monday) for President’s Day, but will remain closed Tuesday and Wednesday while three departments move to their temporary locations at the Abilene Civic Center.
The county clerk, treasurer and register of deeds offices will reopen for business at 8 a.m. Thursday in the civic center, located at 201 NW 2nd. Visitors should park on the north side of the civic center on Northwest Second Street and enter the building through the north doors. An area that was configured for RV parking in front of the building has been converted to angle parking to serve courthouse customers.
“I think the north side of the civic center will be able to handle the majority of the public traffic and the employees can park on the east and west side in the parking lots so hopefully no one has a long way to walk,” said County Administrator Brad Homman.
“I think we’re as prepared as much as we can be at this point,” he added, speaking of this week’s move. “We’ve got some qualified experts to make that happen. We have a moving company that’s going to be here and with any luck by Thursday we’ll be opened back up at the civic center and be functional.”
Moving those offices is the second big move out of the courthouse so the 65-year-old building can be renovated. Dickinson County District Court moved to its temporary location at Sterl Hall the first week of February.
District court’s move to Sterl Hall created a few “learning challenges,” which county staff were able to meet, Homman said, so staff are prepared to “work out any kinks” that come with this week’s move.
While preparing for the two moves, staff were “very concerned” that phones, computers and other data systems would work correctly while maintaining needed security.
This past Thursday and Friday, two treasurer’s office employees and their computers, phones and devices were moved to the civic center so the county’s IT department could ensure they were working correctly, Homman said.
Homman said his department has been working with the sheriff’s office, architects and contractors preparing to order FFE (furniture, fixtures and equipment) for the new jail, including items like trays, silverware, pots and pans for the jail kitchen, jumpsuits, sandals and some furniture for the sheriff’s office.
“We’re reusing as much as we can in the way of those things. However, with the bigger capacity facility and the intention of possibly doing contract housing we’re going to need more of that,” Homman said.
“As you know the current jail is only 38 beds. We’re essentially doubling that so we need more,” he added, explaining the sheriff’s office intentionally has not ordered inmate clothing in the past year or two, waiting to upgrade until the new jail is completed.
Construction speeded up
A number of masons joined jail construction crews last week, speeding up the building process.
“Things are really moving quickly now. It’s amazing the difference on having more people working. We’re hoping it will move the jail completion date up, possibly as much as four weeks,” Homman said.
In recent days, work also has kicked into high gear in the administration portion of the sheriff’s area with doors being installed, walls painted, ceilings going in and other projects getting done.
After district court moved out of the top floor of the courthouse, demolition began in that area, Homman reported. After the first floor is vacated this week, demolition will begin there, starting with the removal of asbestos.
The next step will involve creating temporary walls in the former garage area of the courthouse so 911 Communications can relocate there temporarily. That should be completed in the next couple of weeks.
“Things are going very well right now -- knock on wood -- other than the subzero temperatures we’re going to have to deal with, but there’s not much we can do about that.”
Abilene resident Gina Dalton, who created the “Operation Ike (Information, Knowledge, Engagement) Vitamin giveaway program, asked commissioners if they had viewed the video she emailed about Texas moms discussing mask effects on students. The video, Dalton said, states masks not only cause physical damage, but also psychological damage and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).
“I want you to sincerely watch that video and respond to me,” Dalton said. “My 100 percent goal is to remove those masks from kids in school.”
Later in the meeting, while reviewing letters and communications, Commission Chairman Lynn Peterson said the county had received 65 emails stating the writers were “in favor of guidelines to keep it (mask order) in place,” he said.
The commission approved the following:
• Resignation of Joe Barten as Banner Township treasurer and the appointment of Karen Lorson as the new treasurer.
• Annual permits for eight refuse companies doing business in the county: City of Enterprise, Howie’s Trash Service in Manhattan; Salina Waste Systems; Waste Management of Junction City; Salina Iron and Metal; M&K Trash Service in Lost Springs, Superior Sanitation in Abilene; and Blixt Containers in Chapman.
• The annual noxious weed management plan and noxious weed eradication progress report.
• A proclamation presented by Tanya Paul from DVACK (Domestic Violence Association of Central Kansas) declaring February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness month.
• A proclamation declaring Feb. 17 as Random Acts of Kindness Day.
Contact Kathy Hageman at email@example.com.