Ceremony will formally open Pierce County Annex West

Pierce County officials are prepared to formally mark the opening of the Pierce County Annex West, located at 2501 S. 35th St., on Thurs., Feb. 14 at 10 a.m. The new facility is adjacent to the Pierce County Annex, and the new home of the Auditor’s Election Center, the General Services Division and the Sheriff’s property storage room.
“We are hoping citizens take advantage of this opportunity to go behind the scenes and see important county operations,” said Facilities Management Director Bret Carlstad, whose department was responsible for the $6.7 million project to remodel the former home of Corporate Express Document & Print Management Inc.
The project encompasses the south half of the facility, totaling 56,451 square feet. The north half houses Pierce County Emergency Management and an Emergency Operations Center that will become operational this spring.
The Elections Center features what is termed a “public viewing corridor concept” that provides visitors an increased level of openness to the election processes while preserving the necessary level of security. The center includes updated technologies for handling mail-in ballots. Up to 50 employees, including a number of part-timers, will work in the center.
“The move has already provided some wonderful opportunities,” said Auditor Pat McCarthy. “We now have a One Stop Shop for election services. The facility has state of the art security while at the same time provides the public a transparent view of our processes. It is a new day for Pierce County elections and good timing in preparation for the 2008 election season.”
The new facility enabled what Elections Manager Lori Augino calls a “marriage of our full-time staff with our seasonal staff that supports voter registration, vote by mail and polling place activity . . . The Presidential Primary is under way, and we will be conducting this election from our new facility. We also have March, April and May elections just around the corner.”
In June candidates for office will file in the new Elections Center. August brings the Primary Election, and the Presidential Election will be held in November.
General Services, which maintains the County’s archived records and provides interdepartmental mail distribution, occupies 14,760 square feet of new office and warehouse space. General Services works daily with every County department, and staff is happy to be more centrally located (having moved from 2310 Commerce St.). “We love it here,” said Tammie Carson, records management coordinator. “We don’t feel quite so isolated in our new location.
A division of the Budget and Finance Department, General Services processes more than 2 million pieces of mail annually for County departments and handles interdepartmental mail distribution. Three couriers provide pickup and delivery service to more than 150 worksites. Nine employees work there.
“All three divisions were previously housed in leased facilities,” Carlstad said. “Providing County-owned locations allows the space to be tailored for specific functions. Security is important for all three, and housing them in a single secure structure meets that requirement very well.”
A centralized data, communications and security room equipped with state of the art technology serves the three divisions. A centralized loading dock also is provided. Exterior walls are tilt-up concrete, and interior walls are drywall over light gauge steel framing. The floor is concrete slab, and the roof features modified asphalt over foam insulation and the existing wood deck.
General contractor for the year-long project was Pease Construction Inc., Lakewood. Robison Mechanical Inc., Bremerton, provided the mechanical work, and Rohwein Electric Inc., Bremerton, was the electrical subcontractor. The remodeled facility was designed by Gittens Architects.