For the first two decades of this century, Guilford County let some very prime real estate – a group of offices on the first floor of the Old Guilford County Court House in downtown Greensboro – go completely unused.
However, those offices, which used to be the Guilford County commissioners “offices,” are now bustling with activity and are occupied by county staff who needed a place to work.
Between 2000 and 2020, the Rhino Times wrote many times about the complete waste of the office space on the west side of the building that is the nerve center of Guilford County government.
The old court house is home to the county manager’s office, the commissioner’s meeting room, the offices of the Clerk to the Board and the Guilford County Legal Department among others. However, the door used to be locked permanently, with county cleaning staff sometimes going for months without even cleaning it.
Because there was no need; because it was completely unused.
In the last two and a half years, since the Democrats took control of the Board of Commissioners and named Mike Halford County manager, the county has been adding positions with vigor, and a lot of those positions have been in the clerk to the board’s office and the county’s new Public Relations Department and the MWBE Department.
Many other departments have gotten new positions as well causing a much greater need for county office space.
In the first part of this century, the space on the first floor was largely fodder for comedy because the prime office space was given to the then 11 county commissioners – who used to argue over who got the largest office, and then, once assigned, never ever used them.
The Rhino Times once suggested to the former clerk to the board that she could save herself some aggravation by taking each commissioner individually into the largest office and telling them that was theirs. Then, the contented commissioners could go happily on their way and, since the offices were never used, no one would ever know.
There were a few once in a blue moon exceptions – for instance, former Guilford County Commissioner Ray Trapp once told the Rhino Times that he had occasionally met in his county office with some constituents.
There were landline phones for each of the commissioners in the space but any messages left on those machines would never be heard by anyone.
Over a decade ago, the Rhino Times noticed that one commissioner’s desk had an open calendar on it with some notes on it – only, the calendar was from several years earlier.
Later, when the commissioners’ office space was used as a waiting area for former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich before he made a speech on the governmental plaza, Gingrich left an empty glass of wine on the “receptionist’s” desk in the office area. (There was never a receptionist or anyone else at the desk). The Rhino Times periodically checked in on the wine glass after that, and the empty glass remained on the desk for months – which demonstrated that even cleaning crews never stepped into the office area.