published Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Hamilton County workers part with 1978 desks

The Mayfield Annex is located at the corner of Seventh and Walnut Streets in downtown Chattanooga, seen on Thursday, April 15, 2010.
The Mayfield Annex is located at the corner of Seventh and Walnut Streets in downtown Chattanooga, seen on Thursday, April 15, 2010.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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Creaking stairs wind up several flights to the Mayfield Annex hallway of Hamilton County's finance administrator, Louis Wright, who calls himself the "biggest tightwad in this county."

But soon most of his staff will no longer climb those stairs to sit at modular desks bought in 1978. They will begin moving across town to the Paul A. McDaniel Building, which was donated to the county by Life Care Centers of America.

And after three decades, Wright will have a new desk of his own. The Hamilton County Commission on Wednesday approved about $60,000 to buy furniture as a step in the move to the McDaniel Building at 455 N. Highland Park Ave.

About 27-37 employees will make the move, depending on where to place the county's Human Resources Department. A handful of county employees may remain in the building, including those in the Internet technology and geographic information systems offices, Wright said.

There are no plans for what will happen next to the Mayfield Annex, which is on East Seventh Street around the corner from the County Courthouse.

"There are no immediate plans for that structure," County Mayor Jim Coppinger said Friday.

By statute, whether to close the building is up to the commission, he said.

Two weeks ago, commissioners questioned Wright about the $60,000 bid he recommended for new office furniture.

"Generally I'm perceived as the biggest tightwad in this county," he told them, "and nowhere is it more apparent than in the finance department."

But he looked for more solid wood, which would last longer, he said. It has a lifetime guarantee.

Wright and Gail Roppo, head of county purchasing, said they received six bids for the furniture, out of more than 178 vendors notified.

Commissioners accepted the bid of Ernie Morris Enterprises Inc., which Commissioner Tim Boyd said is based in Florida. The company will deliver, install and guarantee the furniture.

Wright assured commissioners that his desk, which remains in good condition, would continue to be used by a county employee.

The maintenance department determined that it wouldn't be worth the investment to spend more on the annex, Wright said.

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about Ansley Haman...

Ansley Haman covers Hamilton County government. A native of Spring City, Tenn., she grew up reading the Chattanooga Times and Chattanooga Free Press, which sparked her passion for journalism. Ansley's happy to be home after a decade of adventures in more than 20 countries and 40 states. She gathered stories while living, working and studying in Swansea, Wales, Cape Town, South Africa, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn. Along the way, she interned for ...

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