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County eyeing facility design
Union County Commissioners were encouraged Wednesday morning to seek a one-story design for the new courthouse.
Judge Brian Dretke and District Attorney Tim Thompson told commissioners a one-story design would be more cost-effective in the long run.
“We don’t have enough money for any opulence at all,” Dretke said.
In his research, Dretke said he found that commercial elevators cost $45,000 to $75,000 to install. Costs would double for the courthouse, because it would need one public elevator and one for prisoners.
Commissioner Mark Davidson noted that elevators also require continued maintenance, a cost that perhaps would be best avoided over the long run.
Dretke noted that though there is no money for opulence, the look of the courthouse is important.
“I think we can all agree that the courthouse is the focal point for any community,” the judge said. “We need to have something that tells the people of this community this is an important place they can go to get their differences resolved, whether it’s civil litigation, whether it’s criminal litigation, even traffic tickets.”
Dretke told commissioners that a two-story building facing a residential area wouldn’t fall into that category.
In discussing other matters important to the new court facility, District Attorney Tim Thompson said a recent trial revealed problems with public viewing in the current courtrooms.
“There is no mechanism by which members of the public could see anything to do with any of the exhibits that were presented,” he said.
Commissioner Bill Rosholt also said at the meeting that officials want to keep the courthouse on the county campus, but that may mean relocating the Shelter From the Storm as there is little space for a one-story building between it and the Union County Law Enforcement Building.
“It became obvious that Shelter From the Storm, that something was going to have to happen with it,” he said.
Rosholt said he and Judge Russ West had met with the shelter director and explained the situation. Rosholt said they would work with Shelter From the Storm to make sure there are no interruptions in operation and offered the space the current court staff is using in the Old Joseph Building once the court has moved into its new facility. Rosholt said that space would be offered at no cost for rent and utilities.
At the Wednesday morning meeting, commissioners also met in an executive session, after which Union County Administrative Officer Shelley Burgess said they discussed the county’s relationship with the Blue Mountain Humane Association.
“I’d just like to report that in executive session I briefed commissioners on the status of our attempts to resolve the concerns with the operating agreement for the animal shelter between Union County and Blue Mountain Humane Association, and reported that a mediation session has been scheduled,” she said.