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New courthouse, LEC dedicated

Stevens County Commissioners Larry Sayre, Don Munsterman, Paul Watzke and Herb Kloos take part in a ribbon cutting for the new courthouse and Law Enforcement Center on Friday.1 / 2
The new Stevens County Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center was dedicated Friday.2 / 2

Stevens County's newly renovated courthouse and brand new Law Enforcement Center was dedicated Friday during an afternoon ribbon cutting at the the new facility.

The public took tours of the facility following the dedication.

Retiring Board of Commissioners chairman Don Munsterman thanked those involved in the project that was 10 years in the making, in particular past and present commissioners who were involved in the county's largest building project.

"Their insight, patience, understanding and perservance to continue, despite some opposition to the project, will be forever remembered," Munsterman said.

Munsterman and fellow commissioners Herb Kloos, who also is retiring, Larry Sayre and Paul Watzke took part in the ribbon cutting. Commissioner Ron Staples was not at the event.

Work began on the $11 million project in Oct. 2009. Finishing touches are being completed, and county staff will be moved back to the new facility beginning Dec. 20.

Munsterman said the building project will come in about $500,000 under budget, and the county will gain additional revenue when the Stevens Traverse Grant Public Health building is sold.

The project was conceived in the last several years, although county officials have been aware for years that the 1956 courthouse was in need of replacement or significant renovations.

Until early 2009, the county also had planned to build a 20-cell jail onto the building, but public outcry over the costs of building and operating a jail at a time when the demand for beds was falling along with the economy led the county Board of Commissioners to drop the jail from the project.

County office will begin moving back into the new facility on Monday from temporary offices at the City Center Mall to the new courthouse.

Here's the moving schedule:

• The offices of the Recorders and the Auditor-Treasurer will continue to provide services in the City Center Mall location on Monday, Dec. 20.

• The offices of the Assessor, Environmental Services & Planning and Zoning, HRA, VSO, Human Resources, IT and Extension may be closed or provide only limited services in the City Center Mall location on Monday, Dec. 20.

All of the above offices will begin providing services in their offices in the newly renovated Stevens County Courthouse on Tuesday, Dec. 21.

Information about the new courthouse:

The courthouse and Law Enforcement Center is a 44,000 square foot facility with 23,000 square feet of new and 21,000 square feet of renovated area.

The construction cost of the facility is approximately $7.2 million. The total project cost from start to finish will be approximately $11 million. The project has been financed by the Stevens County Housing and Redevelopment Authority issuance of Public Project Revenue Bonds in the amount of $7,685,000, a Federal Grant in the amount of $250,000, and a portion of the county's reserve funds for the balance of the project costs.

The facility serves multiple functions:

• The existing ground floor was remodeled to provide space for Human Services, Veteran's Services, HRA, and Extension.

• Expansion on the ground floor provides Law Enforcement Center space, County Maintenance and IT offices, and new elevator and stair access to the Law Enforcement lobby.

• Courts and Courts Administration remain on the existing first floor along with a remodeled County Board room, public lobby, and offices for the Assessor, Auditor-Treasurer, Recorder, Environmental Services, and Human Resources.

• Within the expanded portion of the first floor is the Law Enforcement Center with dispatch and office spaces for both the county Sheriff's Office and the City of Morris Police Department.