County offices move into remodeled courthouse

The long-awaited carting of files and pushing of handtrucks began Friday as county officials moved from their various temporary offices into a remodeled Island County Courthouse in Coupeville.

Initiated last spring, the $1.9 million remodel, which was planned by county engineer Jill Wood, creates eight separate county offices. Many of the offices, such as the assessor's, are more spacious than before. The courthouse building was also retrofitted to be earthquake resistant, with outer walls being extended to twice their previous thickness.

"I think in general people are pleased with the building," said Public Works Director Bill Oakes Thursday.

The original structure was built in 1947 and, as the main county building, served a variety of functions. Along with housing all county offices, the courthouse also had a jail on the bottom floor. It was remodeled once before, in 1973, at the same time the Island County Annex across the street was built. The project gutted a large boiler room to create more office space. More recently, the county installed an elevator in the building.

During this most recent phase of remodeling the courthouse, offices such as those for the treasurer, auditor and assessor have been scattered around the county campus in trailers and temporary office spaces. The redesign also created new offices for county commissioners, who have been located in the brown Kaul Building on Main Street for years. That building will now become an annex for juvenile services.

Much of Wood's design is public friendly, with offices laid out to expedite government services. For instance, the unique layout of the treasurer's office, with its windowed cubicles and front-facing desks, gives workers full visibility of the public service desk.

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