March completion eyed for Justice Center

upervisors Luke Lummus and Lynn Horton and Chancery Court Clerk Amy Berry talk to Chris Deupree of Benchmark Construction about progress on the Justice Center.
Staff Writer

The new Clay County Justice Center remains on schedule to be completed by the end of March, county leaders were told Friday.

“We’re now down to mostly the little stuff, the things you don’t notice as much,” Benchmark Construction project manager Chris Deupree told supervisors Lynn Horton, Joe Chandler and Luke Lummus and Chancery Court Clerk Amy Berry during an update and tour.
 “We are on schedule for the end of March. Don’t hold us to that, but that’s where we think we are,” he continued.

The inside of the 20,000-square-foot former Jitney Jungle/Pass It On building is framed and has a first coat of paint.

The tile floors and hard floor surfaces should be done in three weeks, and work on ceilings and fixtures should be well under way by the end of December.
During Friday’s discussion, cosmetic items like doors and colors were among major topics for the next phases. Courtroom pews and seating is scheduled to arrive Feb. 1.
Quinn Brislin of Brislin Inc., which is handling the heating and air systems and related work, said his crews remain on schedule as other sections are completed.

Passers-by soon will see work start on the exterior as well.

“You’ll start seeing painting and work on the curbs and parking areas,” Deupree said, noting sign makers recently received a logo to start making building markers.
“We’re pleased, we’re very excited,” Horton told subcontractors.
“We’ve needed this for a long time,” added Lummus.
During Friday’s tour, the supervisors suggested having the three circuit court judges who will use the courtrooms tour them before much more work is done to make sure no changes are needed.

Questions Friday ranged from handicap accessibility for witnesses to bullet-proof judges’ platforms and video visibility for juries.

The old building on Main Street in West Point is being transformed into new courtrooms, offices, and related rooms for Justice and Circuit courts and includes space for future expansion.

In addition to three courtrooms and offices for the clerks, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and holding cells, offices also are included for the veterans services officer, constables and meeting areas.

Work on the $3 million lease-purchase project began in May.

The tax-exempt arm of the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District contracted with Benchmark Construction and will lease the building to the county in a 20-year purchase deal. 

Pryor and Morrow Architects designed the renovations.
Under the current contracts, the county plans to pay off the building in 15 years or less.
County leaders are planning renovations of the existing courthouse for Chancery Court and the Tax Assessor offices. Discussions for the future of the Justice Court building also are beginning.