County attorney finds a new home
A trip to the new Faribault County Attorney office is a journey back to the future.
As part of the multimillion-dollar remodeling plan for the county courthouse and other buildings, the new office is now firmly entrenched in what used to be the county jail. And the result is an overt blend of improvement and nostalgia.
Sporting a waiting area, new conference room and enlarged spaces for each staff member, the complex is a step in the right direction for county attorney Troy Timmerman, who shares the former jail space with assistant Graham Berg-Moberg and legal assistant Angie Doyle.
“It’s more professional looking,”?Timmerman said. “It’s just a good use of the building.”
It is not without historic ties, either.
“My office is actually the old sheriff’s office,”?Timmerman said.
His own space, tucked down a hallway and considerably roomier than the area he occupied in the basement of the courthouse annex, boasts a new ceiling and carpet. But it is still home to the old sheriff’s desk, and it is within short walking distance from jail cells that remain intact.
“They’re used for storage,”?Timmerman said, pointing out stacks of folders resting on what were once inmate beds.
The plan, he added, is for the cells to continue storing things, just as the building did during its years-long vacancy before reconstruction.
One former common area, next door to a block of cells, houses crates of documents. And it is just one of many other old-time remnants that now serve new purposes in the office.
The conference room, with a meeting table at its center, is all new for the staff and a result of some wall reconstruction in what was likely the old jailers office.
Doyle’s office, with a window to the waiting room and enough floor to separate desks and rows of filing cabinets, is not far from a hall that once served as a check-in for police escorting detainees from their car.
Berg-Moberg’s space, complete with a wide window overlooking the sidewalks surrounding the building, is an expansion of what was likely a filing storage area for the sheriff.
“In the old office,”?Timmerman said, “we were largely underground, so if the grass or the snow wasn’t too high, you could kind of see out the window.”
That’s not much of a problem for Berg-Moberg anymore, and neither is actually getting to the revamped county attorney office.
“There were doors in the old offices,”?he said, “but they weren’t very usable.”
Aside from praising the fact that the new office is in an ideal location thanks to a busy schedule at the nearby courthouse, Timmerman echoed his colleague.
“We’re more accessible now,” he said.
Accessibility has not compromised security, either, as a sealed door stands between the office’s waiting room and reception area. Guests must have someone from inside the offices unlock the door to enter.
“There was zero security in the past,”?Timmerman said, recalling his shared space in the courthouse. “Now, people can’t just walk in when they want to. And that’s just a reflection of the times we live in.”
There is still some tweaking to be done with the office, whether it be the final touches of roof reconstruction or some reorganizing of storage in the office’s signature jail cells.
But as Human Services of Faribault and Martin Counties prepares to expand into the county attorney’s old office space, the old sheriff’s quarters are already happily occupied. They are the makings of a comfortable new office.
If anyone should be the judge of how much of an improvement the building is, too, it is probably Timmerman.
“I?actually used to meet with clients as a public defender in this office,”?he said, “so I’ve really been able to see the change.”
And if he or anyone else ever needs a reminder of that change, they do not have to look much further than the office’s own roots.