The importance of their role was never more apparent than during the last year when COVID-19 forced immediate physical changes to county buildings and grounds, increased sanitation and other logistical challenges.
“In the beginning, it was an evolving situation and there were so many things we were trying to be proactive about, but we had no idea when we’d get items like hand sanitizer,” said Sarpy County Facilities Management Director Brian McCoy. “Overall, I’d say our team did really well, as far as keeping our heads level and working with people and departments. It became a new way of life.”
Adjusting to the pandemic
If you’ve visited the Sarpy County Courthouse, you’ve seen changes that have taken place, from Plexiglass installed at all customer counters to temporary barriers and signage that redirected the flow of pedestrian traffic.
“We’re making the building do things it wasn’t originally designed to do,” said McCoy, who became the department’s director in 2020 following the retirement of longtime facilities director Ross Richards. “The Courthouse was designed to be an open space where people could come in and congregate, and all of a sudden, we were in a situation where we had to prevent that.”
In addition to physical changes to ensure social distancing, county spaces underwent specially designed cleaning procedures. The facilities department has used fogging units – one is a wheeled cart and two are battery-powered backpacks – to disinfect offices and other spaces when needed.
These measures were taken so the county could keep employees healthy, and continue to serve residents without disruption.
“We really appreciate Brian and his team for their quick action and extra effort that ensured our facilities were safe for employees and the public,” said Deputy Sarpy County Administrator Scott Bovick. “They have had to step up and deal with COVID issues in addition to handling their regular duties, and they’ve risen to the occasion.”
The Sarpy County Facilities Department has 26 staff members. They include building technicians, repair people and custodians who care for 350,000 square feet of county space each day. The department also works with numerous vendors and subcontractors.
The county’s facility responsibilities include the Courthouse, jail, annex buildings, Sheriff’s Office, Pat Thomas Juvenile Justice Center, Public Works building, landfill and Werner Park. Sarpy County owns the ballpark and coordinates with the Storm Chasers on improvements and repairs.
This year, some county functions are moving to the 1102 Building, an office building southwest of 72nd Street and Cornhusker Road in Papillion. Sarpy County Facilities Management has been instrumental preparing the building for the relocating departments.
The Facilities Management staff not only cleans the county facilities, they also conduct preventative maintenance to extend the life of equipment; oversee regular inspections of generators, cooling units and other systems; and respond to work orders to fix water leaks, replace light bulbs and move furniture.
“I just love the job,” McCoy said. “It’s never boring. There’s always something to learn, and the opportunities with the county are huge. We have a great team, and our crews work day and night shifts to ensure our facilities are safe places for everyone who walks through our doors.”