Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Work it out

I sure hope our new court building and moving about runs smoother than apparently has happened in Guadalupe County.

I am sure it will be.

BTW the picture is NOT the courthouse in Seguin. However, that is sure pretty country in Anaconda County, Montana.

Commissioners consider relocation of courts-at-law
By Roger Croteau: Express-News

District judges in Guadalupe County urged county commissioners Tuesday to put all the district and county court-at-law courts in one building.

A planned renovation of three county buildings in downtown Seguin is expected to lead to widespread shuffling of office space, and commissioners said they plan to make a decision about exactly what offices will go where by the end of the month.

Preliminary plans call for keeping the district courts in the courthouse on the Seguin Square while moving the two county court-at-law courtrooms and some other departments to the old Economy Furniture building a block away on Court Street.

“I am personally disappointed in both the process and the result of the process used to come up with these plans,” said District Judge W.C. Kirkendall. “I believe the courts should not be separated. The district and county courts need to be in the same building.”

Kirkendall said keeping the courts together would minimize security costs and make the courts and clerks' offices function more efficiently.

He also criticized preliminary plans to renovate the courthouse, saying the plans include an unneeded $1.5 million sally port and have inadequate holding cells. He also said the layout will present security problems with judges and the public using the same access to courtrooms.

District Judge Gary Steel said keeping the district courts in the old courthouse is “shortsighted, inefficient and ineffective,” and he urged the commissioners to listen to Kirkendall.
Architect Lindsay Thorn told the commissioners the current proposed layout is designed to ensure the offices have room to expand as the county grows for the next 25 years.

“It's not going to be perfect,” he said. “You are dealing with existing buildings, so compromises have to be made. We take a look at what we have and make it work as best as we can.”
County Judge Mike Wiggins said his plan is to complete a renovation of the courthouse, the Economy Furniture building and the County Annex in the next four to five years, for $15 million and no tax increase.

He was adamant about keeping the district courts in the courthouse if feasible.
“It is a courthouse and it will remain a courthouse if I have anything to say about it, not a hodgepodge of offices,” Wiggins said.

Commissioner Jim Wolverton said he wants to see the county courts-at-law, county clerk, county attorney and the Commissioners Court housed in the old furniture building, which will be the first building to be renovated.

The court decided to have Thorn draw up more detailed schematics for the courthouse, hoping to alleviate some of the concerns of the district judges.