For Immediate Release: February 1 2007
Contact: Jason Gibbs
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Jim Douglas has ordered a phased shutdown of the state office building in Bennington that will begin immediately and aims to have every employee out by the end of March, his administration announced today.
Governor Douglas issued the order following his visit to the office building Tuesday, when he met with employees and toured construction of new modular office units there. Planning for the move has already begun
“I share the frustration and concerns, and make it clear that I expect the relocation of employees to be completed as quickly and safely as possible,” the Governor said
The Governor also said he wants no stone unturned as the existing office building continues to be evaluated for potential health and safety risks. “We are going to give the environmental engineers hired to evaluate the building the resources and latitude they need to test for anything that might compromise the safety of the building or the health of Vermonters working there,” he said
In a memo sent to state employees today, Administration Secretary Michael Smith said, “The Governor and I do not believe that (the current) timetable is quick enough for two reasons. First, most of you indicated that we need quicker action and we agree. Second, this is a major construction project and if there are delays, such as bad weather or any other unexpected construction delay, you will again be waiting to get out of the building.”
The Governor also asked the Agency of Administration to address issues related to sick days and workers’ compensation raised by employees during Tuesday’s meeting.
“Over the next few months, there will be much disruption to you and the public," Secretary Smith continued in his memo to employees. “However, I strongly believe we need to address the health concerns you raised at our meeting. Let me also state the obvious: while we plan and hope for a smooth and hassle-free transition to temporary accommodations, there will invariably be bumps in the road and setbacks and frustration. Such is the nature of massive relocation efforts like the one we are about to engage in. We will need to work together to make this transition as smooth as possible for all employees and for the people we serve.”
Secretary Smith’s memo to employees discussing the move and other matters is available at http://healthvermont.gov.