Moving days arrive for federal agencies settling into new courthouse

2012-08-11T00:00:00Z 2014-08-25T09:49:57Z Moving days arrive for federal agencies settling into new courthouseBy CLAIR JOHNSON cjohnson@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Moving day for five federal agencies into the new $59 million federal courthouse is under way, with three offices already settling into their new quarters.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office moved first, occupying the new James F. Battin Federal Courthouse at 2601 Second Ave. N., more than a week ago. The U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Probation and Parole Office moved in earlier this week.

The final push to move the Clerk of District Court and the court offices a few blocks down the street will occur over the weekend, Clerk of Court Patrick Duffy said Tuesday.

Court staff and professional movers have been boxing and packing this week and will unpack and organize the new offices next week, Duffy said.

“The judges vacated their calendars next week to allow us to do that. It’s running very smoothly,” Duffy said.

Court operations will resume on Aug. 20, he said.

The clerk’s office will be on the first floor, while the courtrooms, judicial offices and juror rooms will be on the fourth and fifth floors, Duffy said.

The clerk’s office and court staff and judges total 23 people.

Dedication of the new building is planned for Sept. 18, with a small formal ceremony in the morning, Duffy said.

Judge Thomas Hogan, director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts in Washington D.C., and former chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is expected to make remarks. Montana’s Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull, of Billings, also will be speaking, Duffy said.

An open house for the public and media also is tentatively set for Sept. 17, Duffy said.

Sally Mayberry, a spokeswoman for the General Service Administration in Denver, said the agency is still working on the details of a dedication ceremony.

The GSA also is regularly monitoring asbestos in the old courthouse during the move to ensure a safe environment for occupants, Mayberry said.

A history of asbestos problems in the old courthouse led GSA to build new offices for the federal courts and other agencies.

U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter said the move for about 30 lawyers and support staff in the Billings office to the third floor of the new courthouse went smoothly.

“The nice thing about the space — we are on one floor, which is really pretty great. It’s very convenient to be on the same floor. It is very nice to be in a building shared with the court,” he said.

Previously, the U.S. Attorney’s offices were on two floors in a former bank building about three blocks from the old courthouse.

Cotter described the new space as a bright, energy efficient “green” building.

The Marshals Service moved earlier this week to the courthouse’s second floor from its former location at the Old Chamber Building across the street from the Yellowstone County Courthouse and next door to the old courthouse.

Rod Ostermiller, chief U.S. deputy marshal, said the agency occupies most of the second floor and shares a small space with the GSA, which built and owns the building.

The Marshals Service was probably the quickest to move, Ostermiller said. “I don’t think we’re nearly as records intensive” as the other agencies, he said.

Jim Patelis, supervising officer with the Probation and Parole Office, who was in the middle of moving on Wednesday, said everything was going smoothly. Probation and Parole moved from 2525 Fourth Ave. N. to the first floor of the new building.

Meanwhile, construction continues on a $30 million, five-story federal office building at 2021 Fourth Ave. N., which is the former site of Aldrich Lumber Co. Construction began earlier this year and completion is planned for summer 2013.

The new office building will house 400 federal employees with the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the Office of the Field Solicitor, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Office of Special Trustees for American Indians.

Those employees will continue working in the old courthouse until the new office is ready, Mayberry said.

Boyer Co. of Salt Lake City is building the new office and will lease it back to the GSA for at least 20 years.

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