Havre Daily News
The Hill County Attorney's Office may be on the move.
Hill County commissioners on Monday said they will consider moving the office to the county courthouse basement, which is largely empty, as part of a renovation of the floor.
The county Health Department and Family Planning have moved to the courthouse annex building, leaving the offices of the county sanitarian and Hill County Extension in the basement.
Hill County Attorney Cyndee Peterson said her current office is too cramped. When more than two people are in the office for a meeting, they are “literally sitting on top of each other,” she said.
The offices hold three attorneys, two secretaries, a personnel clerk and the victim advocate.
Peterson said the office layout presents privacy and confidentiality issues because one of the deputy attorneys and the victim advocate - who share an office located in a small vault - must walk through her office to access their own. If the attorneys move to the basement, each would have their own office with private entries.
When the county holds an interview panel for a new employee, four officials are involved, which means they all have to find an empty meeting room or courtroom, Peterson said. Peterson proposed including a meeting room in her new office.
Also, the personnel clerk is down the hall, out of sight and unable to hear the other office occupants.
Hill County Commission chair Kathy Bessette said many of the courthouse's occupants are in close quarters and “when a space opens up, everyone wants it.”
“The county attorney's needs are most pressing now. Then we'll go from there,” Bessette said.
Hill County Commissioner Doug Kaercher said he wondered how the project could be done without compromising the historical integrity of the building. He added that the design of the basement should go along with the contemporary, simple look of other areas in the courthouse.
“I think there's a lot of good possibilities,” Polson architect Paul Bishop of Building Solutions LLC said during a walk-through of the basement.
He said one idea is to reopen the door on the east side of the building, which leads from the basement to outside. County planner and sanitarian Clay Vincent's office now blocks the door. The commissioners said they are unsure where Vincent's office will be relocated in the reconstruction.
Kaercher said the commission has not set a timeline for the planning and execution of the remodel plans, does not know the budget for the project and “wants to take the time to do it right.”