By Tim Leeds
At noon yesterday, members of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors cut the ribbon to officially open the Havre Job Service's new building.
After the ribbon-cutting, Montana Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry Pat Haffey thanked the people who made this office possible, including area legislators, Mayor Phyllis Leonard, and the community.
"I'm so appreciative of the partnership the community showed," she said, "and with Pam Harada's work and patience waiting for the right location."
Leonard also addressed the audience, saying the community should be praised for making its desires known and supporting the Havre office. She said without this support, Havre would have lost the service.
Wendy Keating, Administrator of the Job Service Division of the State of Montana Department of Labor and Industry, said it was this support that made the new office possible.
"It was really an outcome of community support," she said. "People speaking out and saying they wanted the services, wanted them in Havre. The strength of the support made this possible."
Sen. John Testor, D-Big Sandy, said he supported the appropriations bill that included the new office in the last legislative session, but he said former work had probably already made the bill succeed.
"I think it was a done deal by then," he said
Rep. Antionette "Toni" Hagener, D-Havre, said she has always strongly supported the Havre office.
"When it was threatened, I fought for it," she said.
She said because of rising construction costs, additional funding had to be sought in 1999 to supplement the 1997 appropriations. She said it was part of a larger appropriations bill and was heavily under siege, but many community members showed their support for the bill and it ended up passing.
The new office combines the services formerly housed in two offices, with easier access to services and the offices of the employment specialists.
Haffey said the design of the building will make it more appealing for people to use the service.
"We were really fortunate to be able to design it with our purposes in mind," she said. "It's very open and friendly. People will be comfortable coming in to do their business. It needs to be user friendly."
Keating said the new offices will make it easier for the Job Service staff to help their clients and for business owners and job seekers to find help.
"It's important for customers to be comfortable," she said. "Whether to do-it-yourself or to get help. They have to want to come in to use the services."
The new office has an atmosphere that will make people want to use the service, Keating said. She said it also gives the office's staff a better atmosphere to work in. She said the new office will let them feel better about themselves and the services they offer.
The new office includes employer services formerly held in a secondary office at 109 Second Street. This includes conference rooms and an employer resource room. Keating said this will help the service work with local businesses.
"These guys operate in a close relationship with employers and job service employers committees," she said. "Listening to their main customers, the employers, is crucial. If they don't meet their needs, they're failing their job."
Great Falls architect Gordon Whirry, the designer of the building, said there is still work to be done.
"Exterior landscaping is on the way, once we scrape together funding from contingencies. The paving had to be delayed, too," he said.
He said they agreed upon a low slope roof for the building because of advantages ranging from economy to appearance. He said it will help eliminate icing from the perimeter of the roof and will also be beneficial for landscaping.