Slack pushes to move D.A. into courthouse

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

County Clerk Robin Slack, in remarks June 6, emphasized her desire for criminal justice functions to be separated from administrative functions.

Slack commented during a meeting of the Osage County Board of County Commissioners. Matt Graves, one of the architects tasked with designing a new administration building and designing the space apportionment for a renovated county courthouse, was on-hand to receive comments on the most recent version of his firm’s designs.

Slack voiced disappointment that the design work showed the District Attorney’s office being included in the new administration building rather than in the renovated courthouse. She explained that she had hoped the staff of the County Clerk’s office could be spared exposure to the criminal element.

The architects have expressed concern that they might not be able to fit all of the staff of the District Attorney onto one floor in the renovated courthouse.

County Treasurer Sally Hulse has also criticized the latest plans for the new administration building, noting there would be too little space for her equipment. Hulse has otherwise expressed approval for moving the Treasurer’s Office into the new building, She has mentioned termite problems in the current Treasurer’s Office building.

The agenda for the June 13 meeting of the Board of County Commissioners showed an item for discussion of hiring a firm to act as an owner’s representative or advocate in the process of constructing the new administration building and renovating the courthouse. An owner’s representative could help to facilitate better communication between county officials and the architects and builders.

Osage County commissioners did hear June 6 from former District 2 Commissioner Kevin Paslay, but Paslay made no mention in the meeting of his previously articulated interest in an administration building or “annex” for the Skiatook community. Asked later about his omission of that topic, Paslay said he knew the current commissioners opposed the idea, so he didn’t bring it up.

”I want to be a part of the solution and not the problem,” Paslay said.

In his remarks during the meeting, Paslay reflected on having gotten into trouble while in office in regard to a purchasing matter.

”I didn’t realize what I was doing is wrong,” Paslay said. He apologized for actions on his part that may have given offense, and voiced a desire to have a future role in Osage County public affairs.

”My spiritual gift is service,” Paslay said. “I’ve done it all my life.”

Paslay also spoke of a desire to help the Country Corner Fire Department, a small organization with its headquarters west of the town of Sperry. Paslay recalled that he had not always been friendly to the organization.

”And I was their biggest opponent,” Paslay said. He added that he would now like to “stand up for” Country Corner.

There was an item placed on the Board of Commissioners’ agenda for June 13 regarding possible financial assistance for Country Corner.

The commissioners also heard June 6 from resident Jerry Butterbaugh, who inquired whether there will be a meeting at some point for public review of plans for the new administration building and the courthouse renovation.

“This is the citizens’ courthouse,” Butterbaugh said. He has recently championed the idea that county government should be looking to do more to digitize records and move away from long-term storage of large quantities of paper records. County officials have expressed sympathy for that view while also explaining that there are some types of paper records that must be kept and stored.