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New county admin building opens to rave reviews

Two weeks after opening its doors to the public, the new Kitsap County administration building has received rave reviews from both the public and the public servants. Meanwhile, crews are working to complete detail tasks as the need arises.

“We’ve had a few hiccups,” said Shawn McEvoy, general foreman for builder Swinerton. “But we’re ironing them out.”

One of the hiccups comes from the late arrival of two display cases, meant for the main lobby and inside the commissioners’ chambers.

On Monday McEvoy was working on a way to temporarily cover the large, unsightly piece of plywood now serving as a placeholder for the lobby case.

One other glitch originated from the kiosk, which didn’t work at the building’s opening. After a software upgrade it is now fully operational, listing all the possible services with directions to the necessary department.

These are fairly explicit (“for the auditor’s office turn around and proceed directly forward past the information desk which is on your left”).

The kiosk’s operation is simple but has its own idiosyncrasies. After each request, users must return to the main screen if they need more information. The touch-screen only responds to the flat part of the finger; those using a fingernail or a sharp object will think the machine isn’t working.

The first meeting of the county commissioners in the new space last week was disrupted by several pigeons flying into the eaves just outside the south window. No birds have made their way into the chamber yet, but McEvoy said several “anti-bird measures” will be taken in order to the resolve the problem.

Slats with upward-facing nails on the perch have so far failed to discourage the birds, which have already left a distinct white trail below the perch.

Each department has its own refreshment room, but some employees feel the building will be incomplete until espresso service opens on the main floor lobby. The stand, which now operates in the courthouse building near the old locations for the Department of Community Development and the Assessor’s Office, will move to the new building as soon as the locks are secured, according to vendor Chris Kelly.

The county commissioners heard from several sources about the staff’s high level of preparedness prior to the move, with the movers citing instances of smaller moves made harder by ill-prepared employees.

The commissioners also discussed “doing something special” for the Informational Technology (IT) group, which managed to move all communications, telephones and computers without a glitch.

“It was the planning that made this work,” said IT Director Bud Harris. ”We tested the connections for weeks until we got it right, and there was only one part of the building where the phones weren’t ringing. We were able to fix that in a few hours.”

The county will hold a grand opening ceremony for the new building from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 1, at which time the public will get a glance at local government’s inner workings.

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