Admin Extension move (copy)

On June 2, staff members of the  University of Wisconsin-Extension office, Agricultural Agent George Koepp and 4-H Program Assistant Pat Wagner, move a white board on Friday into their new office on the second floor of Columbia County's new Administration Building, 112 E. Edgewater St.

Lyn Jerde/Daily Register

There was no ribbon-cutting when the Columbia County Administration Building at 112 E. Edgewater St. opened for business on June 2.

While employees hauled in boxes and small furniture items, the County Board’s Human Resources Committee held the first-ever meeting of a County Board body in Room 115 (designated by a makeshift paper sign).

Chairman Bruce Rashke opened the session with a quiet declaration: “Well done.”

Over the ensuing months, however, not everyone would say the same about the county’s biggest-ever building project.

There was more than a little consternation over cost overruns and items that weren’t included in the original $45.51 million budget.

Court-related offices moved, in July, into a temporary location in the new Health and Human Services Building, 111 E. Mullett St., while HHS employees gamely remained in cramped quarters at 2652 Murphy Road for another year.

The courthouse, 400 DeWitt St., was gutted, and a sally port was added to the rear, to convert the 55-year-old building to court-related use only. But, as is common with remodeling projects, glitches abounded.

For some added expenses, the County Board approved using other sources of money. These included $481,650 from a building maintenance account to cover the cost of new climate-control equipment at the courthouse, and $292,000, transferred from the general fund, to pay for new digital videoconferencing systems in the remodeled courtrooms.

As of December, officials of the Madison construction firm J.H. Findorff and Sons said they expect the court-related offices to move back into the courthouse in mid to late May, and the HHS employees to occupy their new building about a month later.

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