Firms win bids for judicial center

A Zionsville firm has won the general construction contract to build the new Jackson County Judicial Center in Brownstown.

RLTurner Corp. will be paid $6.983 million for construction of the two-story brick building that will house the county’s three courts. A fourth courtroom is included in the plans, but it will be left unfinished until the need for another court arises.

The bid package was one of four involving the new building at 109 S. Sugar St. approved by county commissioners during their meeting Tuesday night at the courthouse annex in Brownstown.

The project has a completion date of no later than November 2018.

The total construction cost of $9,211,828 was a little bit better than anticipated, said Morris Thomas with Garmong Construction Services, which is headquartered in Terre Haute. The bond issued to be sold by the county to finance construction is $12.14 million, which includes design and other costs, including bond fees.

The bond will be paid back over a 25-year period with income tax revenue.

The other successful bidders were Harrell-Fish Inc. of Bloomington, $1.265 million for mechanical and plumbing; Integrity Fire Protection LLC of Fishers, $95,560 for fire protection; and InPwr Inc. of Indianapolis, $1,056,856 for electrical.

The judicial center primarily is the result of a decision to organize Jackson Superior Court II on Jan. 1, 2008. At the time, that court was in the meeting room of the courthouse annex.

That court, presided over by Judge Bruce MacTavish, continues to meet in that same room nine years later. The court handles juvenile issues and family matters, such as divorce and child custody. The waiting area for those making court appearances is in an adjacent hallway, which can be overcrowded at times.

The annex, which housed the jail until the summer of 2000, would be used for other county offices and would be connected to the judicial center.

Two courtrooms in the new judicial center would be on the first floor, and two would be on the second floor.

Combining the courts into one building will make everything simpler and the courts more efficient and secure, county Councilman Brian Thompson recently said.

“With the enclosed sally port in the basement, it’s going to be secure where the prisoner actually comes into court and never sees a citizen or a jury or anybody,” he said. “There’s a central holding cell for all four courts and restrooms, so there’s no need for prisoners to have contact with anyone before and while leaving court. It’s very well designed.”

Thompson said combining the courts in one central location also would eliminate the confusion some have when they have court business and they are not sure where they need to go.

With the courts in one location, the clerk’s satellite offices at Jackson Superior Court I in Seymour and Jackson Superior Court II can be combined, eliminating some positions.

There will be a need for at least a couple more court security officers. At the present time, there are two court security officers who spend most of their time at the courts in Brownstown and a jail transportation officer who takes inmates to Jackson Superior Court I for hearings.

Alternates to put the fencing around the judicial center and exterior lighting for the facade were left out of the final bid packages along with finishing out the fourth courtroom, Thompson said.

After the meeting, commissioners President Matt Reedy said it likely will not be long before the fourth court is needed because of the state’s plans to reopen weigh stations on Interstate 65, a mile north of Seymour.

In 2005, 9,198 traffic infractions were filed in Jackson Superior Court II. In 2015, there were 3,291 infractions processed.