The design phase of a $12.14 million judicial center to house all three Jackson County courts is entering its final chapter.
Bids for that project, which involves the construction of a new building to be known as the Jackson County Judicial Center at 109 S. Sugar St., are scheduled to be accepted in April with a completion date of no later than November 2018.
The two-story center is the result of a decision to organize Jackson Superior Court II on Jan. 1, 2008. At the time, that court was in the meeting room of the courthouse annex in Brownstown, Jackson County Council member Brian Thompson said. He is also a member of the building committee.
Jackson Superior Court II, presided over by Judge Bruce MacTavish, continues to meet in that same room nine years later. The court handles juvenile issues and family matters, such as divorce and child custody. The waiting area for those making court appearances is in an adjacent hallway, which can be overcrowded at times.
That court, Jackson Circuit Court in the courthouse and Jackson Superior Court I in Seymour all would be in the new judicial center, along with a future fourth court that may or may not be finished out, depending on the bids for the project, Thompson said.
Two courtrooms would be on the first floor, and two would be on the second floor.
“It’s one of three alternates,” he said. The other alternates are a decorative facade for the building and a connecting corridor between the center and the courthouse annex.
The alternatives have been incorporated into the designs for the judicial center, and those designs are 75 percent complete, Thompson said.
He said combining the courts into one building will make everything simpler and the courts more efficient and secure.
“With the enclosed sally port in the basement, it’s going to be secure where the prisoner actually comes into court and never sees a citizen or a jury or anybody,” he said. There’s a central holding cell for all four courts and restrooms so there’s no need for prisoners to have contact with anyone before and while leaving court. It’s very well designed.”
Read the full story in Friday’s Tribune and online at tribtown.com.