County workers get new quarters

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 26, 2007

COURTLAND—Change is in the works for Southampton County’s Department of Building and Zoning.

Starting at 8:30 a.m. Monday, the four employees of the department will be working from a different — if not exactly new — space.

With almost triple the space they had in the administrative wing of the county’s office building in Courtland, Building and Zoning employees are looking forward to having more room to spread out, more room for their equipment and more room for customers, said Robert L. Barnett, director of community development.

&uot;We are happy to be over here,&uot; Barnett said Friday during a brief break from organizing his new office in the old white building that sits near Main Street at the entrance to the Southampton County Administrative Center.

The new location, he added, &uot;allows us more working space, and we can continue to provide the services to the public that need to be provided.&uot;

The old offices had no plan table where employees could review blueprints with customers, meaning that a conference room had to be commandeered whenever such a review was necessary. The new space has ample room for such meetings.

The old space — which comprised about 400 square feet — was so small that one of the department’s inspectors did not even have a desk of his own.

The new building will give Barnett his own office, both inspectors their own space in a large open room and even has room for another planner, whose position Barnett hopes will be included in next year’s budget.

Other county departments will also benefit from the move, Barnett pointed out. The space his employees are vacating will be taken over by employees from Southampton’s cramped finance and data processing departments.

Contractors and county staffers have been working for about two months to get the building ready for Barnett and his staff.

A wall was added, a few cabinets were built, some lights were relocated and tile was installed in the bathroom. Employees have fit the actual move into their schedules during the last three weeks or so.

The move was eased a bit by the fact that Barnett’s department will use most of the furniture and fixtures left in the building by its last tenant.

For years, the structure has served as a sort of utility building for whatever needs the county had at the time.

It served as the administrative building for the school that occupied the Administrative Center’s site for many years. Since then, the building has been occupied at different times by the county’s court system, the sheriff’s department, the Board of Equalization, and the now-defunct economic development offices.