Starke County Commissioners Move Forward with Courthouse Renovation Project

The Starke County Commissioners reviewed drawings Monday night for a proposed renovation project on the third floor of the Starke County Courthouse. 

County officials discussed the renovations in detail in August of last year after taking a tour of the third floor of the courthouse.  Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall worked with DLZ Architect John Kirk on priorities to come within the council-approved budget of about $300,000. 

Judge Hall said his priorities were the renovations of the bathrooms, and seating inside the large courtroom.

“The idea is to upgrade the comfort to the public and to the jurors,” stated Judge Hall.  “The seats are wider for the public’s seating.  We’re going to put a bench in the back.  Sometimes police officers come in and they have their guns on their side and they can’t sit in those seats so there’s a bench for anyone who doesn’t want to sit in one of those seats.”

Kirk noted that the four bathrooms will be renovated as noted as priority by Judge Hall. 

However, Kirk said the biggest priority is repairing the leaky air handler in the attic.  It is causing ceiling damage in the summertime so the equipment will be repaired to address that issue including an alarm on the condenser. 

As for other large courtroom upgrades, the doors will be replaced along with the curtains and flooring, audio and visual equipment will be upgraded, new rails will be installed, and the lighting fixtures will be relamped with energy saving lighting.  A new security feature that can be accessed by the judge and the judge’s staff to either lock people inside or outside of the courtroom and offices is planned. 

A fire alarm system is included, but outside of the budget as it was included following the initial discussion. 

The jury rooms will get a fresh coat of paint and new ceiling tiles, while the Magistrate’s court will get new wainscot paneling, new carpet and lighting.  The wallpaper will be removed and the walls will be plastered. 

The overall goal is to keep the historic nature of the interior of the courtroom with these renovations and Kirk believes that the integrity will be kept intact with the plans presented. 

The designs are specific so when bidders bid on the project, they will have the information needed to submit their estimates. 

The commissioners approved the drawings as presented.  Kirk will discuss certain paperwork with County Attorney Marty Lucas before the documents are advertised for the bidding process.