Hundreds of state workers were told to stay away from their offices Monday because of the inaugural activities at the Capitol.
The reason? To free up parking for people coming in for the inauguration.
Department of Administration Secretary Ross Taylor told agency administrators last week to encourage state workers to "work from either a remote location or from home." The letter also sought to make clear Monday was not to be considered a "holiday," even if the employees did not have to come to work.
"Employees who work from home will be 'on call' and available for their respective agencies," Taylor said. "Those employees are not to report to their respective offices, unless otherwise directed by their Cabinet Secretary or Bureau Chief. Please note that Inaugural Day is not to be considered a state holiday."
Those employees included workers in the main Capitol building, the Culture Center and Building Nos. 4, 5, 6, 7, 15 and 17.
That includes hundreds - possibly thousands - of state workers in the executive branch headed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, although staffers for the state Supreme Court and the Legislature reported to work as if it were a normal Monday.
At 4 p.m. Monday, most of the lights were off at two of the large Capitol Complex office buildings that house the Department of Education and the Department of Transportation, among other agencies.
The inauguration date is set in the state constitution and is among the whacky or arcane-seeming things to be found therein: it is to fall on the first Monday after the second Tuesday in January.
Often this coincides with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is set for the third Monday in January. That means the Capitol Complex is often already empty. But, this year, the two were not the same day.
"The last time the Inauguration was not on MLK Day was in 1997 for former Gov. Underwood," said state Department of Administration spokeswoman Diane Holley-Brown.
"The Capitol campus employees were handled in the same manner, which set a precedence to ensure the security and safety at the Capitol and to manage the logistics of this event."