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Judge Rolf approaches commission again about remodel

Friday, December 21, 2012

Judge Dennis Roth points to a doorway as he explains his plans for the courtrooms to commissioners on Thursday, Dec. 20.
(Kelsey Alumbaugh/Democrat-News)
Judge Dennis Rolf attended the Saline County Commission meeting on Thursday, Dec. 20, to speak with commissioners about updating the courtrooms.

Of the proposed changes, enlarging the Division 6 courtroom and keeping the jury out of areas occupied by the general public for protection and to remain unbiased.

"I don't like the jury having to come out of the jury room into the general public area," Rolf said.

Commissioners Norvelle "Brownie" Brown, Tom Stallings and Monte Fenner stand in the jury room as Judge Dennis Roth explains his proposed renovations to the courtrooms on Thursday, Dec. 20.
(Kelsey Alumbaugh/Democrat-News)
Enlarging the Division 6 courtroom would require moving the associate judge and the clerks office, but Rolf thinks it's important.

"What if you had a family member that was a defendant or a victim and you couldn't get in the courtroom with that person because it was too full," he said. "There's just not enough room."

Rolf also states he needs to be able to use an unoccupied room in the basement.

Judge Dennis Rolf approached commissioners on Thursday, Dec. 20, to again discuss renovations to the courtrooms. Above is an approximate image of how the courthouse floor plan is currently. Brown lines indicate the judges bench and jury box.
(Kelsey Alumbaugh/Democrat-News) [Order this photo]
"To make a good use of it would be to allow us to consolidate everyone down there so its one stop shopping for the citizens," Rolf said as he proposed putting all the clerks in one office.

The commissioners were concerned about what the project would cost and if it would jeopardize the contract with the State Historic Preservation Office.

Presiding Commissioner Tom Stallings also expressed his concerns about the potential future need of a human resources staff member, and where that person would work from, due to the new insurance policy.

An approximate image of the changes Judge Dennis Roth proposed to the commissioners on Thursday, Dec. 20. The clerk's office and circuit court judge's office would be moved to the basement to make for a larger jury room and larger Division 6 courtroom. Protection is Roth's main drive for pursuing the renovations. Roth said he didn't like the jury being in general public areas like the restrooms, and giving up his office was a way for them to have access to a private restroom. Brown lines indicate the judges bench and jury box.
(Kelsey Alumbaugh/Democrat-News) [Order this photo]
"If you allow us to make these changes, it will be utilized. There will be a lot of improvements made, hopefully at no cost to the county," Rolf said about the room in the basement. "Obviously we aren't going to proceed with something that would hurt that contract."

Rolf noted he had a copy of the contract from the State Historic Preservation Office and he understood its importance.

"Actually, one of the changes I'm proposing -- opening up Judge Bellamy's courtroom -- is putting it back to the way it was."

Northern Commissioner Norvelle "Brownie" Brown wanted more information, and Rolf agreed to take the commissioners on a tour Thursday afternoon.

"I would like to sit down with you again and look at the floor plan," Brown said. "And go with you through the process. Where you want what door, what wall."

Thursday afternoon commissioners went with Rolf through the courtrooms as he explained his main goal for the renovations was protection for judges and jury members.

Rolf compared the Saline County courthouse security to other counties as he stressed the importance of keeping those within the courthouse safe.

Rolf stated the funds for the project could come from the Law Library Fund and potentially the Saline County Bar Association, but he wasn't sure what the total cost would be yet.

Stallings and Southern Commissioner Monte Fenner said they were hesitant to approve anything without knowing an estimated cost.

All commissioners agreed that Charlie Guthrie, who will be taking Brown's place on the commission Jan. 1, should be included in the decision.

In other commission news, DVDs showing the previous courthouse renovation are available for $11 at the courthouse. The recount for the Saline County Treasurer's position is set for Thursday, Dec. 27.

Contact Kelsey Alumbaugh at kalumbaugh@marshallnews.com

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Associate Judge left on 3rd floor and his clerks put in the basement? That doesn't sound very efficient to me as they handle all traffic and misdemeanors.. and all arraignments. Wouldn't it be better to combine the Associate and Probate clerks offices??

-- Posted by Gumby on Sun, Dec 23, 2012, at 6:47 AM

Great ideas!!!

-- Posted by mama11 on Fri, Dec 21, 2012, at 10:17 PM

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