Stark County Commissioners, sheriff’s office get a glimpse at new courthouse addition

Stark County Courthouse

Members of the Stark County Commission, along with members of the county’s sheriff’s office, had the opportunity to do a final walkthrough the new addition to the Stark County Courthouse on Friday morning.

The addition is around 13,000 square feet and cost around $6 million. Stark County commissioner Ken Zander said the project is completely paid for and actually came in under budget by around $150,000.

The addition to the courthouse building includes a new county commission meeting room on the first floor, new offices for the assistant state’s attorneys and the states attorney on the second floor and new judge’s quarters on the third floor. Each of the four district court judges will get their own office, along with an office for their respective clerk. Every floor also has new bathrooms.

Zander said, by law, they are required to provide space for district court judges, but the judges are responsible for their furniture. Zander said the judges will likely move into their new space in the first week of February.

Another highlight of the building is a sally port, which will allow officers to safely bring prisoners in and out of the courtroom in a discreet manner.

“The biggest goal of the project was to increase security in the building for the people that work here and for law enforcement bringing prisoners coming in and out,” Isaac Karley, with JLG Architects, said. “So coming into the courtroom as close we can was a big necessity.”

Security was a major emphasis throughout the new addition. Doors and elevators will have key card access and there are also several ‘rescue assistance’ buttons located on each floor should something go wrong. Zander said each of the state’s attorneys’ desks will have a panic button as well.

There is also a secure garage where deputies can bring in prisoners. If a Stark County officer is bringing a prisoner over for a court appearance they will use a key card to get access to the garage. However, if an officer from another county needs to access it they will have to call to be let in.

The new floor for the state’s attorneys office includes a front desk area with granite from the original building and a conference room. In general the space is much larger than the current office. Much of the furniture was made by Dickinson-based TMI Inc., Zander said.

The Stark County Commission is also getting a new meeting room, which will allow them to integrate technology. Presenters could come with a presentation on a laptop and hook it up to a podium. The presentation would then be visible on the two televisions in the room, as well as on tablets for the commissioners. Zander said they anticipate officially using the new meeting room in March, in order to make sure everything is ready to go.

The space will also be used during elections, Zander said. Currently voting is done on the first floor, which can make for rather tight quarters during the election.

“One of the important uses of this space will be our voting, this will be a voting center,” he said. “So we will have increased our space for voting considerably.”

There will be a second and third phase of construction to address other needs of the courthouse, such as potentially updating the basement level which includes the veterans’ affairs office. No timetable has been set for the future updates at this time.