Architects to make courthouse annex design alterations

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Architects handling the design of a new courthouse annex for Osage County agreed May 18 to make several changes and report back with an updated proposal in early June.

County officials also seemed to settle on Kandy Jump, assistant to the Board of County Commissioners, as a point person for communications about the annex project.

Design elements that prompted comments in a May 18 special meeting of the county commissioners included moving Treasurer Sally Hulse’s office into the new annex, and doing some earthmoving on the anticipated annex site — just north of the courthouse — so that residents will be able to walk into the new building at ground level.

Jerry Roberts, director of Emergency Management, also objected to the elimination from plans for the annex of a basement, which had been considered a likely spot for a command post that would be valuable in times of public emergency.

There was discussion about trying to move the district attorney’s office into the main courthouse, but the architects were uncertain if it would be possible to get all of the D.A.’s staff onto one floor in that building.

The commissioners and other officials met May 18 with Matt Graves and Gang Li, of Architects in Partnership.

Jerry Butterbaugh, a retiree who serves on the board of the county Industrial Trust Authority, told the architects that he has been a supporter of the annex project, but he has become concerned recently about whether the new building is going to be designed in a manner that will help to maximize service to the public. He complained about the amount of space he perceived might be devoted to the storage of paper records in what has become a digital age.

District Attorney Mike Fisher indicated that Osage County government simply isn’t at a point yet where the general elimination of paper records storage is possible, but the new administration building can still facilitate improvements, such as eliminating the need for “support runs” that employees of his office have been required to make on a daily basis to the courthouse. Fisher shared an anecdote that highlighted the difficulty of trying to carry a collection of paper records out of the courthouse to a vehicle on a windy day.

”I would like to go to the 21st Century as well, but we’re kind of stuck right now,” Fisher said.

County commissioners were scheduled to talk Monday, May 23 about retaining an owner’s representative for the annex project.