Smiles and jokes as happy workers move out of Kinkead
Smiles were the uniform of the day Monday as the Department of Information Technology became the first state agency to move workers out of the embattled Kinkead Building.
About 45 members of the technology department’s Planning and Research division and administrative staff will be in new offices at 400 King St. by week’s end.
Dave Miller, planning manager, said he has been in Kinkead 15 years – first with Mental Health and Developmental Services and now with DOIT.
He demonstrated how the floor of his office sags more than 4 inches in just 10 feet from window to door.
“I was one of the worker’s comp cases,” he said. “It made my back worse and I ended up having surgery.”
Shelly Person, chief of administration, said the floor in her office is also visibly tilted, dropping nearly 6 inches over a distance of 20 feet from one end to the other.
“Most of us get smaller offices (in the new building) and we don’t care.”
She said Kinkead is proof that “low bid doesn’t always get it.”
“You’re not going to find one sad face here today,” Miller said.
Walking between the stacks of boxed files, equipment and plants, she said the move was also a good chance to clean out a lot of things DOIT doesn’t need anymore.
“Stuff has been in here 20 years. We even had typewriter ribbons,” she said pointing out they no longer have typewriters. There were also a lot of files decades old that had no useful value anymore.
“We threw it all away.”
By Friday, she said only a dozen technical staff will remain on the fourth floor of the Kinkead Building. They will wait until June or July when their new computer building is ready between state printing and the Department of Education.
Jenet Hensley, a member of Miller’s staff, said they hope to be able to unpack and get back in business quickly at the new office.
“With any luck it’ll only be one lost day,” she said.
She said one challenge will be adjusting her reference bookcase so it stands straight on a flat floor.
“One leveling leg is out as far as it goes so when we put up the bookcase, it’s going to go like this,” she said holding hands at an angle. “It’s going to be really odd not having that slope (in the floor) because you get used to it. I used to trip over the carpet because of it. Now I’ll probably trip because the floor is level.”
Most of the remaining state workers in Kinkead are with the Department of Human Services. Director Mike Willden had hoped to move his 350-400 workers out by summer too but a spokesman said Monday they are now being told the move could be as late as October or November.
They will move to the former Harley-Davidson credit offices on Energy Way when remodeling is complete.
Kinkead has been described as the worst office structure the state ever built. Lawmakers drew protests after, two sessions in a row, canceling construction of its replacement and putting the money into pork projects. The Interim Finance Committee finally agreed last summer to move everyone out and shut down Kinkead for good.
When everyone’s out, Miller said he has a suggestion to raise money to raze Kinkead: “Sell lottery tickets to push the plunger that demolishes it. Everyone who ever worked here would buy one.”
— Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.