Proposed renovations to the Starke County Courthouse and old jail building across the street will start next spring and wrap up by the end of 2016 under a timeline adopted last night by the county commissioners. Plans call for the former jail building to be turned into office space for Starke County Community Corrections and the probation department. Purdue Extension will move from the courthouse into the basement, and space will be incorporated for a county morgue facility.
The first and second floor of the courthouse will be renovated to accommodate the prosecutor’s office and the clerk of the circuit court. Electrical upgrades are also proposed for the building, along with exterior tuckpointing and repainting and sealing of the second and third floor windows.
The cost of justice-related projects will be covered with funds from the county economic development income tax passed to pay for jail construction. Other improvements will be paid for out of the general county economic development income tax fund. The prosecutor, clerk and Starke County Community Corrections will also contribute money from their budgets to cover portions of the project. The amounts of their respective contributions are not known at this time.
Plans for exactly how the courthouse space will be divvied up are still being finalized. Clerk Vicki Cooley advised she needs quite a bit of space for record storage. After some discussion the commissioners suggested doing a cost-benefit analysis of hiring a vendor to digitize the existing records for easy retrieval and placing the originals in a climate-controlled storage facility until they can be disposed of in accordance with the law.