SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — The Minnehaha County State’s Attorney’s office is just over a month away from completing a major renovation that will give prosecutors much more space to handle a growing caseload. The project began in September and is scheduled to be finished on January 16th.
The Minnehaha County State’s Attorney’s office has been a hard-hat area throughout the fall and heading into winter.
“So this room here is our new workroom,” office manager Kim Colwill said.
But the renovations that are already complete provide the staff with much-needed upgrades.
“The new offices are wonderful. Everything is brand-new and we’re not looking at the 1970’s version of the building anymore,” Colwill said.
The renovations will roughly double the space for the department located on the second floor of the Minnehaha County Administration Building. It offers a much more centralized location for workers who have been stationed in far-flung corners of county offices.
“We have some in the old jail, some are in the basement down there. We have individuals at other various departments throughout the county,” Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Daniel Haggar said.
The expansion is key to addressing the county’s rising caseload of prosecuting crimes.
“Violent crime is rising in Minnehaha County and so with those cases, it takes a lot of meeting time, it takes a lot of resources, it takes a lot of space just to prosecute those cases well. This remodel is an investment into that,” Haggar said.
What was once the county commission meeting room is now filled with workspaces.
“We have our victim witness assistance on the far side of the office,” Colwill said.
But the staff has had to make some adjustments until the remodeling is complete, with some attorneys temporarily doubling-up in offices. Meanwhile, the office manager’s desk is located, for the time being, in a hallway.
“It’s very busy and I’m easily distracted, so trying to get work done some days is a challenge,” Colwill said.
Five staff members are set up in the break room.
“So, unfortunately, it’s hard for people who normally take their lunch here to be able to have somewhere to sit and relax for their hour,” Colwill said.
The remodeling project has closed off the stairs and elevator to the state’s attorney’s office. So, there’s a phone here on the south end of the Minnehaha County Administration Building that visitors can use to get into the office.
“Our lobby is shut down right now. People stop by our office all the time to talk about the case they’re a victim in, to ask about protection orders. There’s a lot of stuff that we relate to the public just when they stop by and that’s hampered, so that’s too bad,” Haggar said.
But those inconveniences to both the public and the staff should end next month. The county’s growing caseload will testify to the need for a more spacious office.
“I’m looking forward to having it done,” Haggar said.
The bigger space will also help with a growing staff. The state’s attorney plans to request funding from the county commission for more employees within the department.
The renovation is part of a $2.3 million project that also included upgrades on the third floor.