Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Welcome to El Paso County's version of Taj Mahal

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2011 at 5:50 PM

Well, that's probably too strong of a headline for this blog, but there are some pretty uptown features at the El Paso County Citizens Service Center on Garden of the Gods Road.

The last time I visited, many offices were still being remodeled and finished to make way for all the county's downtown offices that would move there.

Now they've relocated to the new digs, so it was time to pay a visit.

On the first floor is the workforce center, a workout room for county employees, the clerk and recorder's motor vehicle and recording departments, and a cafeteria.

Here are a few photos:

County employees workout room, shot through the door.
  • County employees' workout room, shot through the door.

Motor vehicle: No waiting.
  • Motor vehicle: No waiting.

Aspen Pointe is running the cafeteria, although the county has yet to sign a contract with the agency. Details are being worked out, a county official said.
  • Aspen Pointe is running the cafeteria, although the county has yet to sign a contract with the agency. Details are being worked out, a county official said.

The third floor contains the Department of Human Services, one of the county's busiest offices. On the second floor are the assessor, clerk and recorder and treasurer.

Assessor Mark Lowderman's operation gained 3,000 square feet with the move, and now is spread over 15,000 square feet. It's great, he says, because now the employee breakroom doesn't have to double as a conference room.

Lowderman's office is a carbon copy of his former office at the County Administration Building, 27 E. Vermijo Ave.

Lowderman: His office mirrors his former one, same furniture and everything.
  • Lowderman: His office mirrors his former one, same furniture and everything.


Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams
has a massive amount of space; so much, in fact, that he didn't know exactly how much. Enough that his office is at least twice the size of Lowderman's, but Williams says he holds manager meetings there, so it's an office and conference room in one.

Williams in the office part of his office.
  • Williams in the office part of his office.

Williams has named the rooms in his suite after military installations, such as the Fort Carson Operations Center where ballots will be verified and counted, the Peterson Counting Center next door, and the Schriever Results Center next to that.

He says he did that to give the rooms unique identities in the building and to "honor the military who are fighting for our right to vote." He got the help of the Chamber of Commerce's Brian Binn to secure the OK from area bases.

As for the Air Force Academy, its name has been stenciled onto the glass windows of the Academy Conference Room, which is a sight to behold.

It contains an 18-foot conference table ($9,632), a buffet piece ($2,597) and 18 "pillow soft chairs," according to the invoice ($5,130, or $285 apiece).

Grand total: $17,359.

But wait, before you jump on Williams, understand that these items were purchased in 2007 by then-Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink, who squirreled them away at a branch office on Powers Boulevard, hidden on the second floor.

Williams says the room was rarely used. But the furniture was so impressive, he says, that when it came time to finish the new Service Center space, he had a room designed to accommodate the long table and comfy chairs. Now the conference room is used multiple times a week and is open for any county official to use for meetings and conferences or training.

By the way, the furniture came from Business Environments of Colorado Springs, which gave a mere $50 to the Chamber of Commerce PAC in the 2002 cycle, a year in which Balink sought the clerk and recorder job the first time and was elected. The Chamber supported Balink, who used to work for the Chamber.

Take a gander:

DSCN0135.JPG

DSCN0136.JPG

Balink is now the county treasurer. We stopped in to see him but he was too busy to see us and we didn't get further than the outer office, which looks like this:

DSCN0134.JPG

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