Barbour, staff headed to newly refurbished digs

Published 7:14 pm Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Gov. Haley Barbour is changing addresses, moving to new offices at the remodeled Sillers State Office Building.

The move is a short one from the offices Barbour and his staff currently occupy in the Woolfolk State Office Building.

The move puts Barbour’s main office just north of the Capitol instead of west of it. It gives the governor a better view of the statehouse dome that can be used to wow visitors or serve as an impressive backdrop for photos.

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Barbour spokesman Buddy Bynum said the governor’s office will close at noon Thursday on the 15th floor of Woolfolk building and reopen at 8 a.m. next Monday on the top two floors of Sillers.

Staff members in the governor’s Capitol office will still answer the main office telephone during the move.

Then-Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and his staff moved from Sillers to Woolfolk in late 2000, while an extensive renovation of Woolfolk was being finished. An extensive structural and cosmetic update of the Sillers building started in 2001.

Barbour announced in November 2005 that the governor’s office should return to the Sillers building.

“My own view is the governor’s office should return to the Sillers building, but I was glad to have my judgment affirmed by former governors,” Barbour said at the time.

His decision, however, altered plans for the space.

The attorney general’s office had been scheduled to move into the top floors of Sillers. The attorney general now has offices in the nearby Gartin Justice Building, which has had structural problems for years and is to be partially demolished once a new Supreme Court building opens.

During their regular session early this year, lawmakers approved $1 million to complete the renovation of the governor’s space in Sillers. During a special session in late August, lawmakers approved $2.5 million to renovate space for the attorney general’s staff in lower floors of Sillers.

Kym Wiggins, spokeswoman for the state Department of Finance and Administration, said Monday that the state is spending $34.6 million to renovate Sillers and another $19 million to building a parking garage that should be finished by fall 2007.

It will cost about $16,000 to move the governor’s office, Wiggins said. All furniture and fixtures such as filing cabinets will stay in the Woolfolk building, and the $16,000 will pay for moving personal belongings and equipment such as computers and printers.

The Division of Medicaid is to move into Sillers in February or March, and the attorney general’s office is to move in in the spring, Wiggins said.

She said DFA still has not decided which state agencies will move into the Woolfolk space the governor is vacating.