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Published: Wednesday, 2/29/2012

Placement of funding for courts considered

Access an issue, commissioners are told

BY LISA SWICKARD
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

TIFFIN — Seneca County commissioners still intend to set aside $400,000 of the county's 2011 carryover for court facilities, but talked Tuesday about putting the money into the capital projects fund rather than creating a separate Justice Center Enhancement Fund.

County Administrator Stacy Wilson told the board a new fund would be restricted, meaning officials would be required to obtain a court order to tap the money.

"In the [capital projects fund], there is the flexibility of using it without a court order," Board President Ben Nutter explained. "As long as we are showing a commitment to address the justice system issues, that's my goal in proposing this fund in the first place. The intent is that we want to put money toward addressing the issues that have faced us for 50 years that have gone ignored. It demonstrates the board's wishes that we address those problems."

The county's probate and juvenile courts are housed in a cramped building that is not accessible by the disabled, and the common pleas courts are in the annex building that was constructed for the probate and juvenile courts.

Commissioners demolished the county's vacant 1884 courthouse this year, saying the county could not afford a proposed $8 million plan to renovate it for the common pleas courts. The board now plans to set aside money each year for enhancements to the justice system, which could include new facilities, additional facilities, new construction, renovation, or purchase of equipment.

In other business Tuesday, county resident Brenda Stultz inquired about the possibility of placing a flagpole near the annex building. The flagpole in front of the 1884 courthouse was removed before the building was razed.

Although Commissioner Dave Sauber reiterated that new flags will be placed in the raised planting bed on the sidewalk near Washington Street, Ms. Stultz questioned whether they will be close enough to the annex.

"We can certainly consider it. Our intent is to landscape the area, then build on top of that," Mr. Nutter said about the vacant lot where the 1884 courthouse sat. "For the short term, we want to make it look attractive. We don't want it to look like it does now. That is good input to talk about as we look forward to adding to that space in the future."



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