MONTROSE – Montrose County recently broke ground on a new facility that will house important court, emergency and child services.
Work begin in early January to construct a 17,000 square-foot Justice Center Annex building south of the Montrose County Courts Building and Sheriff's Office – known as the Justice Center – at 1200 N. Grand Ave.
The project stems from the state's requirement that the county – home to the 7th Judicial District – provide two additional courtrooms and a new hearing room for additional judges being added to take care of an increase in caseloads within the district, according to county officials.
The annex building, which will also house the 911 dispatch center for the area, will be located about 200 feet from the Sheriff's Office, said Ken Norris, Montrose County facilities director.
The 911dispatch center probably will likely be the last organization to move into the new facility, which is expected to be completed by early summer.
“Emergency communications  is out of space and [staffers] are sitting on top of each other to the point that they cannot hear, and are interfering with each other,” County Manager Jesse Smith said. “The Sheriff has already taken space away from other functions to provide 911 with all he can.”
Because proximity to the courts is important, the district attorney's office, child support enforcement unit and coroner's offices will move into the annex first, said Peg Mewes, director of Montrose County Health and Human Services.
“This is ideal in that there is frequent need to be in court,” she said. “The fact that the [child support enforcement] unit will continue to be located at the Justice Center site is very important to us for that same fact.”
After the departments move to their new building, remodeling for the new courtrooms will take place, and is expected to be completed by September.
“The probation office is on the second floor of the courts building, and child support is on the first floor. Those are the two areas [where] we'll go in and create the two new courts and hearing rooms,” Norris said.
Norris said that the state has already provided the district with one new judge to handle an increase in the district's caseloads.
The Justice Center building, constructed in 1998, doesn't have the room to accommodate growth, and hasn't had any extra space since its inception, according to county officials.
The state will provide the furniture for the courtrooms, but will not provide any funding, Smith said.
The new annex building will cost the county $3 million; the design-build contract was bid out in October 2011 to Ridgway Valley Enterprises of Montrose. Decent winter weather has allowed construction to move along smoothly, so far, Norris said.
The bid for the court remodel has not gone out, but Norris said he expects it to within the next two months.
The county has budged approximately $400,000 for that project, Smith said. Funding for both projects will come from the county's Capital Improvement Fund. The county budgeted an additional $1.5 million for that fund last year and this year, and will do the same in 2013, to cover the expense of these projects, he added.