Starke County Council Supports Third Floor Courthouse Renovation Efforts

The Starke County Council members gave their support toward an effort to renovate the third floor of the courthouse.

John Kirk from DLZ went through the proposed list of updates that was compiled by Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall which included new carpet, lighting, sound system, technology, jury seating, gallery seating, attorney seating, new draperies, new entry doors and additional security cameras in the large courtroom.  Updates to the jury room and the small courtroom were also proposed as well as the bathrooms on the third floor.  Floor coverings would be installed where needed and some painting work is recommended.    

The tile floor in the hallway would not be touched and as much of the historic nature of the third floor of the courthouse will be preserved. 

The council members, commissioners and members of the public took a tour of the third floor of the courthouse to get an idea of what the current conditions are and what will be updated. 

The renovation estimate was projected at $400,000, but according to Kirk the items were listed on the high side in terms of cost.

As for the funding aspect of the project, after discussing revenue figures with Auditor Rachel Oesterreich, Commissioner Kathy Norem proposed carrying over some Jail CEDIT and Regular CEDIT money to cover the cost of the upgrades.  She suggested $300,000 from the Jail CEDIT fund and $100,000 from the Regular CEDIT as options.

Council President Dave Pearman, and council members Howard Bailey and Brad Hazelton commented that there are some items that may not be need to be considered on the list so the estimate could be reduced.  They asked that Judge Hall prioritize the list of renovations. 

Pearman stressed that efforts should be made to keep the historical, vintage ambiance of the interior as much as possible. 

After more discussion, the council voted unanimously to support $200,000 out of the Jail CEDIT Fund and $100,000 out of the Regular CEDIT Fund. 

The plans will move forward to finalize the list and determine the next steps in the design phase.