Courthouse growing nowhere

Published 6:46 pm Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Building a new courthouse should probably be the last thing on Chilton County Commissioners’ minds, considering the present economic times and the need for a tight budget.

But the more money commissioners put into the 1960s-era facility, the more questions come up as to whether or not it’s worth patching.

The project currently on tap is the installation of a fire alarm system and the upgrading of fire exits on the building’s stairwells. This move is required by the state fire marshal’s office to bring the building up to code.

It seems the biggest struggle for space is on the third floor, especially on court days when long lines and chatter in the hallways seem to eliminate what sense of privacy may exist for lawyers and clients. In addition, what space used to be available for witness rooms is now used for office space.

No matter how much you might disagree, there’s really no way around it: Sooner or later, a new facility will be needed.

This issue is an old and tired one, but it’s still an issue, and it’s going to be until a solution is found. But perhaps there’s a way around this, at least temporarily, without having to construct a new courthouse.

Monday, Commissioner Allen Caton suggested the construction of a new judicial building. This likely won’t happen anytime soon, but it is something that should be discussed.

And a judicial building doesn’t sound like a bad idea, as it would free up a whole other floor for county offices.

Then, perhaps all the offices under the umbrella of the tax collector could again be located under one roof.

Considering the county’s financial tightrope, such ideas sound like dreaming. But perhaps they could locate new revenue sources, or hope that the possibility of an economic stimulus package could make more money available for such projects.