Courthouse expansion funds to be determined

By Thomas Verschelde

DeKALB |The fate of a $500,000 proposal to expand the DeKalb County Courthouse will be decided by the county board April 20.

The oversight committee of the courthouse proposed the money as a contingency fund.

“No matter what you do you never know what might come up,” said Larry Anderson, chairperson of the DeKalb County Board. “Basically, the money is for unforeseen costs and we do not know what they are going to be.”

Construction began April 4, Anderson said. He added that the exterior should be finished by winter, leaving only interior construction.

“It is not yet known, of course, if all of the funds in the contingency fund will be needed for the project,” said County Administrator Ray Bockman. “Those funds that are not used for the courthouse expansion will be available for the second project which is the jail expansion.”

Maureen Josh, circuit clerk of DeKalb County, said the expansion of the courthouse is not due to overcrowding.

“We are building the new addition to the courthouse to meet all of the new requirements of the past 30 years and to hopefully meet as many of the future requirements as are foreseeable,” Josh said.

Updates to the courthouse will include new security cameras, a secure entrance for prisoners, a secure holding area for prisoners and an extra courtroom for certain specialty courts.

“The goal is to finish as much of the space as the current project funds will allow to take advantage of the highly competitive construction market at this time and provide much-needed employment opportunities during the current recession,” Bockman said. “Even with the addition of these funds, there will be one full floor of the courthouse expansion that will remain unfinished for future judicial expansion needs. We hope that this addition will serve the needs of our justice system for at least the coming 50 years. It is the first addition of space for the courts in 107 years.”

The courthouse addition is on schedule and is set to be completed in June 2012.