- The Washington Times - Monday, December 8, 2003

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The new Oklahoma City federal building, with shatterproof windows and other special security features, opened doors yesterday, more than 8 years after the bombing that killed 168 persons.

The building will not be fully occupied for weeks, but the U.S. Small Business Administration and its two dozen employees were open for business there yesterday. Workers with hard hats were doing finish work in the morning chill while crews installed copiers and fax machines.

The building is near the one destroyed by Timothy McVeigh’s truck bomb and a block from the Oklahoma City National Memorial — causing some government workers to criticize the location and ask for other accommodations.

SBA employee Cindi Anderson said she was nervous about the building until she got a tour and saw the security features.

“With everything going on in the world, it’s a little scary, but I’m more comfortable now,” she said.

Fellow SBA employee Jerry Reese said it was important to rebuild after the bombing.

“If we didn’t do it, the terrorists win,” Mr. Reese said. “We are honored to be the first tenants.”

The SBA started moving in Friday, and is one of three agencies scheduled to complete their moves this week.

“A change is always difficult,” said Dorothy Overal, the agency’s state director. “But we’re looking forward to it. Our space looks very good.”

The building has been called one of the safest in the country. The main entrance is enclosed with three-quarter-inch-thick, floor-to-ceiling steel plates. The building is set back from the street, and its windows are specially treated so they won’t shatter in an explosion.

Still, its proximity to the Alfred P. Murrah Building site prompted several workers with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to say they don’t want to move into the new building.

Federal agencies have been scattered throughout Oklahoma City since the April 19, 1995, bombing.

About half of the 103 HUD employees worked in the Alfred P. Murrah Building, some next to co-workers whose desks crashed through the floor. The agency lost 35 employees in the bombing.

HUD officials have said they are making special arrangements for employees who refuse to move into the building, though no final decision has been made about where they will work.

Other agencies moving in are the Food and Drug Administration, the hearing and appeals office for the Social Security Administration, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the General Services Administration and offices for the Army and Marines.

The building is to be dedicated in May. No formal name for it has been announced.


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