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Hillsborough County Center relocates in advance of RNC

Workers put panels on the windows Friday at the County Center in downtown Tampa to protect against rock throwers. The shields are a combination of cardboard construction with polystyrene. Friday was the last day that the County Center will be open to the public until after the Republican National Convention, which runs Aug. 27-30.

KATHLEEN FLYNN l Times

Workers put panels on the windows Friday at the County Center in downtown Tampa to protect against rock throwers. The shields are a combination of cardboard construction with polystyrene. Friday was the last day that the County Center will be open to the public until after the Republican National Convention, which runs Aug. 27-30.

TAMPA — Hillsborough County Center took on the look of an evacuation zone Friday.

Government employees loaded laptops, files and phones into boxes and onto dollies. Maintenance workers cocooned lower floor windows with plastic panels. Crews unbolted monuments across the street at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park and hauled them away for safety.

Of course, it's not a hurricane causing all the activity, but something comparably big: the Republican National Convention.

In what the county is treating as a practice round for a tropical threat, officials are shutting down operations at the main government complex in downtown Tampa. Some 1,200 employees are being shipped out to buildings around the county due to the government center's close proximity to the RNC hub and potential protesters.

Signs and brochures tell visitors, "We're Open for Business, Just Not Business as Usual."

"We've done everything we can to let people know we're open, but will be at different locations," said County Administrator Mike Merrill. "Hopefully no one will show up here on Monday."

The county took the step of shutting down a week ahead of the convention, figuring there will probably be early arrivals and to give employees a week to transition and work out any bugs before the crowds arrive. The move is also meant to take some cars off the road as 50,000 potential visitors arrive in town.

But in today's digital world, officials are not anticipating disruption of service.

Employees simply show up to their new location, plug in their laptops and go. Because the county used an Internet-based phone system, employees can also take their land-line phones with them and plug into a jack elsewhere. Their phone numbers will follow them.

"The people in our office who have already moved said that the only down time is the drive out there," Merrill said.

County officials are encouraging the public to call or visit the county's website to access services. All of the usual phone numbers still apply. But if residents need to renew a driver's license, meet with a county commissioner or do something else in person, they'll need to drive someplace other than County Center.

County courthouse operations and Clerk of the Circuit Court services not housed in County Center remain open next week. Courts will mostly close after that, with first-appearance hearings and some court operations moving to other locations. Clerk operations are moving to satellite offices.

At the same time, the John F. Germany and Robert W. Saunders, Sr. public libraries in or near downtown will be closed from Aug. 20 to Aug. 31.

The evacuation of County Center-based employees took place in stages through the week, and by mid-day Friday, the building was taking on a ghost-town feel.

"I'm the last," said Lori Hudson, the county's communications director, from the 16th floor. "I'm ready to go and basically need to take this, this and this, and my phone," she said, pointing out a few items on her desk.

County maintenance workers were busy affixing the plastic panels to County Center windows, up to the third floor. The panels, which look like heavy-duty cardboard, were recommended by the Secret Service, said Tom Fass, the county's director of facilities.

The same panels have been hung on court buildings and will be installed on other government office windows to ward off rock-throwing anarchists. Chillura Park is a staging ground for protests, and a fence will go up around County Center next week.

An initial installation of the plastic panels at County Center didn't take. Cranked up air conditioning on the ground floor causes condensation, which resulted in panels blowing off through the week. Fass said the air conditioning temperature was raised, appearing to fix the problem. The panels cost $28,000.

"We're trying to be prudent, to protect the public's assets," Fass said.

County officials are treating the exercise as a practice round for a storm. In the past, when tropical systems have threatened, County Center closed but some employees remained.

"This is the first time in the existence of us being down here that we have fully activated our disaster plan," Hudson said. "The RNC gives us the perfect opportunity to do it."

Times staff writer Keeley Sheehan contributed to this report. Bill Varian can be reached at varian@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3387.

Here is a mostly complete list of services, where they are getting relocated and phone numbers.

For a complete list of county services and locations, go to www.hillsboroughcounty.org. For court information, go to www.fljud13.org. For court clerk information, such as where to pay a traffic ticket or fine, go to www.hillsclerk.com. Each has links related to RNC related information. For the clerk's office in particular, not all of its service will be offered at all four satellite offices, so a website visit or phone call in advance of a trip is advised.

Board of County Commissioners (813) 272-5660

Pinebrooke Office Complex

10119 Windhorst Road, Tampa

County Administrator (813) 272-5750

Brandon Support Operations Complex

332 N Falkenburg Road, Tampa

Clerk of the Circuit Court (813) 276-8100

-Brandon Regional Service Center

311 Pauls Drive, Brandon

-SouthShore Regional Service Center

410 30th St. SE, Ruskin

-Floriland Business Center

9309 N Florida Ave., Suite 103

-Plant City Courthouse

301 N Michigan Ave., Room 1071

Property Appraiser (813) 272-6100

-Brandon Regional Service Center

311 Pauls Drive, Brandon

-Plant City Neighborhood Service Center

307 N Michigan Ave., Suite 3, Plant City

-SouthShore Regional Service Center

410 30th St. SE, Ruskin

-Westgate Plaza

12086 Anderson Road, Suite 105, Tampa

Supervisor of Elections (813) 744-5900

-2514 N Falkenburg Road, Tampa

-10439 Gibsonton Drive, Riverview

-12022 Anderson Road, Tampa

Tax Collector (813) 635-5200

-2211 N Falkenburg Road, Tampa

-2814 E Hillsborough Ave., Bldg. 2, Tampa

-3011 University Center Drive, Suite 150, Tampa

-1834 James L. Redman Parkway, Plant City

-3002 College Ave., Ruskin

-6283 W Waters Ave., Tampa

The Center for Development Services (813) 272-5600

-SouthShore Regional Service Center

410 30th St. SE, Ruskin

-Behind Fountain Oaks Shopping Center

3620 W Humphrey St., Tampa

Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court (813) 272-5894

Aug. 22- Sept. 3

-Falkenburg Road Jail (criminal first appearances)

520 N Falkenburg Road, Tampa

-Plant City Courthouse (civil and domestic violence hearings)

301 N Michigan Ave., Plant City

-Hillsborough Juvenile Detention Center West Administration Bldg.

3948 W Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd., Tampa

-Floriland Business Center (shelter/child support hearings)

9309 N Florida Ave., Room 103, Tampa

Public Utilities (813) 272-6680

-Brandon Support Operations Complex

332 N Falkenburg Road, Tampa

-Northwest Customer Service Center

15610 Premiere Drive, Tampa

Aging Services (813) 272-5250

-Brandon Senior Center

612 N Parsons Ave., Brandon

-Lutz Senior Center

112 First Ave. NW, Lutz

-Oaks at Riverview Senior Center

101 E Kirby St., Tampa

-Phyllis H. Busansky Senior Center

4102 W Spruce St., Tampa

-Plant City Senior Center

1205 S Waller St., Plant City

-Ruskin Senior Center

905 6th St. SE, Ruskin

-Town 'N County Senior Center

7606 Paula Drive, Tampa

-Wimauma Senior Center

5714 North St., Wimauma

Health & Social Services (813) 272-5040

-Lee Davis Neighborhood Service Center

3402 N 22nd St., Tampa

-Plant City Neighborhood Service Center

307 N Michigan Ave., Plant City

-Ruskin Neighborhood Service Center

201 14th Ave. SE, Ruskin

-University Area Community Social Service Center

13605 N 22nd St., Tampa

-West Tampa Neighborhood Service Center

2103 N Rome Ave., Tampa



Where are they?

Here is a mostly complete list of services, where they are being relocated to and phone numbers. For a complete list of county services and locations, go to hillsboroughcounty.org. For court information, go to fljud13.org. For court clerk information, such as where to pay a traffic ticket or fine, go to hillsclerk.com. Each has links related to RNC-related information. For the clerk's office in particular, not all of its services will be offered at all four satellite offices, so a website visit or phone call in advance of a trip is advised.

Board of County Commissioners

(813) 272-5660

Pinebrooke Office Complex

10119 Windhorst Road, Tampa

County Administrator

(813) 272-5750

Brandon Support Operations Complex

332 N Falkenburg Road, Tampa

Clerk of the Circuit Court

(813) 276-8100

• Brandon Regional Service Center

311 Pauls Drive, Brandon

• SouthShore Regional Service Center

410 30th St. SE, Ruskin

• Floriland Business Center

9309 N Florida Ave., Suite 103

• Plant City Courthouse

301 N Michigan Ave., Room 1071

Property Appraiser

(813) 272-6100

• Brandon Regional Service Center

311 Pauls Drive, Brandon

• Plant City Neighborhood Service Center

307 N Michigan Ave., Suite 3, Plant City

• SouthShore Regional Service Center

410 30th St. SE, Ruskin

• Westgate Plaza

12086 Anderson Road, Suite 105, Tampa

Supervisor of Elections

(813) 744-5900

• 2514 N Falkenburg Road, Tampa

• 10439 Gibsonton Drive, Riverview

• 12022 Anderson Road, Tampa

Tax Collector

(813) 635-5200

• 2211 N Falkenburg Road, Tampa

• 2814 E Hillsborough Ave., Bldg. 2, Tampa

• 3011 University Center Drive, Suite 150, Tampa

• 1834 James L. Redman Parkway, Plant City

• 3002 College Ave., Ruskin

• 6283 W Waters Ave., Tampa

The Center for

Development Services

(813) 272-5600

• SouthShore Regional Service Center

410 30th St. SE, Ruskin

• Behind Fountain Oaks Shopping Center

3620 W Humphrey St., Tampa

13th Judicial Circuit Court

(813) 272-5894

Aug. 22-Sept. 3

• Falkenburg Road Jail (criminal first appearances)

520 N Falkenburg Road, Tampa

• Plant City Courthouse (civil and domestic violence hearings)

301 N Michigan Ave., Plant City

• Hillsborough Juvenile Detention Center West Administration Bldg.

3948 W Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd., Tampa

• Floriland Business Center (shelter/child support hearings)

9309 N Florida Ave., Room 103, Tampa

Public Utilities

(813) 272-6680

• Brandon Support Operations Complex

332 N Falkenburg Road, Tampa

• Northwest Customer Service Center

15610 Premiere Drive, Tampa

Aging Services

(813) 272-5250

• Brandon Senior Center

612 N Parsons Ave., Brandon

• Lutz Senior Center

112 First Ave. NW, Lutz

• Oaks at Riverview Senior Center

101 E Kirby St., Tampa

• Phyllis H. Busansky Senior Center

4102 W Spruce St., Tampa

• Plant City Senior Center

1205 S Waller St., Plant City

• Ruskin Senior Center

905 6th St. SE, Ruskin

• Town 'N County Senior Center

7606 Paula Drive, Tampa

• Wimauma Senior Center

5714 North St., Wimauma

Health & Social Services

(813) 272-5040

• Lee Davis Neighborhood Service Center

3402 N 22nd St., Tampa

• Plant City Neighborhood Service Center

307 N Michigan Ave., Plant City

• Ruskin Neighborhood Service Center

201 14th Ave. SE, Ruskin

• University Area Community Social Service Center

13605 N 22nd St., Tampa

• West Tampa Neighborhood Service Center

2103 N Rome Ave., Tampa

Hillsborough County Center relocates in advance of RNC 08/17/12 [Last modified: Saturday, August 18, 2012 12:58am]

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