Washington County Superior Court is moving from its present location — 3 minutes and 19 seconds — (to be precise) to the end of Webb Street in Salem during the $5.4 million expansion.
The move, according to Washington County Commissioner Phillip Marshall, will begin May 18 in order to allow Koetter Construction to begin the expansion of the current facility on June 1.
Marshall, a first-term Commissioner, was appointed to a committee to manage and build the new expansion to the Washington County Detention Center which increased the jail capacity.
He appeared on WSLM’s Coffee Club program this morning to discuss the new project to expand the courtroom.
“Moving it, should save about 1-2 months on the building project,” said Marshall. “It will be an inconvenience to start out. We plan to break ground June 1. We will have temporary parking place for jail visitors and additional parking for sheriff’s department.”
Marshall said 32 parking spaces would be initially lost but when the expanded court area is opened in about 10 months, 120 parking spaces will be gained.
The expansion for the over-crowded Superior Court is long overdue and will also contain Washington Circuit Court and the Clerk’s office in one area, which will be vacating their space at the Washington County Courthouse.
Leaking roofs, space confinements and an increase in mandated security measures are among the reasons to seek exodus.
According to Marshall, the State of Indiana was going to require all entrances to the Washington County Courthouse to have a guard.
“In addition to the salary of five officers, we also have the cost of transporting prisoners to the courthouse and the time for the offer to be there,” said Marshall. “We’ll be saving that. We had to transport a prisoner to Indianapolis the other day for about a 15 second “yes’ or “no” session in front of a judge. Washington County has to pay for that.”
Marshall said the county’s whole judicial system will be moved to the jail complex.
“Everything will be connected,” said Marshall. “There will be rooms on the inside for early voting. There will be one main door entrance. You’ll go through a guard and metal detector. There will be a safe for anything a person can’t take in.”
Marshall said visitors will be able to go to the Clerk’s area or to the court area.
“There will be a voting room to go in and do early voting. You can turn and go into courtrooms. There will be video visitation,” said Marshall. “Where you can go in and in some cases, go in a room…prisoners can call home and communicate via video. In a lot of cases, you can use video to use to transfer to another court without transportation.”
Moving the Superior Court to the Webb Street location, which is owned by Ken Temple, will allow construction work at the jail complex to get started and continue without interruption of the court system.
“Most of the work will be in superior court as we know it now,” said Marshall. “Rather than having court trying to go on…it’s better to move it and get the work done.”
The project is expected to cost $5.4 million although Marshall said originally it was planned for $7.5 million.
“We think we have everything covered,” Marshall said. “In three years, it would cost $10 million and then when the state absolutely mandates [increased safety measures], we’ll have to come up with the $10 million. If you plan and reserve something, that’s what we’re doing in the county. Some people disagree with some of the things we do…I don’t like some of the things we do. I’ve tried to stay with what the law forces us to do. That’s the hard part….But we don’t have a choice.”
Marshall said most of the public really has no idea of what the drug problem is in Washington County and Southern Indiana.
“I didn’t know myself until I had this position and have worked so closely with the detention center.
“We have to do it. We can’t dump [criminals] out in the public. You don’t want to live in a country of fear and we can’t go back to the Wild West days when everyone packed a gun,” he said.
“When people break the law, they have to go to jail,” he said. “It costs the taxpayer and we’re mandated by the state to do this. Unfortunately….it’s so important today and People don’t realize the drug situation…I didn’t either.
“But when you’re involved in this….to see what these drugs can do to you. We all like to think we’re indestructible. I know as a kid, we could move the world. When you try something to get a high….and you get beyond the point when you damage your brain.
“Sometimes you get to the point that it damages the brain. You take 20 year old people who have pretty well shot their life…this is some of the things I’ve seen. Don’t think you can try drugs and it’s going to get a fantastic high. When you see the other side….there’s no coming back because of a stupid thing. We all have to live with and we have to deal with it to take care of them. It’s a shame.”