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Published: Wednesday, 1/9/2013

Seneca County Commissioners offered design for courthouse


TIFFIN — A year ago today, downtown Tiffin was forever altered when a wrecking ball smashed through the roof of Seneca County’s 1884 courthouse.

On Tuesday, rookie commissioners Holly Stacy and Fred Zoeller barely had time to settle into their new roles before they were reminded that the site of the former hall of justice is now a vacant lot.

Tiffin native Craig Genet — an architecture major who recently graduated from Ball State University — presented the commissioners with artist renderings and a three-dimensional model of his idea for a new, modern courthouse.

Although his presentation was not solicited by the current commissioners and his design was completely different from the look of its Beaux Arts-style predecessor, Mr. Genet said his goal was to give commissioners an idea of what courthouse square could look like.

“I hope this can be the start to some open, but polite and compromising discussion,” he said. “This is just to give you an idea of where I went with this project.”

Mr. Genet’s presentation did prompt the subject to be revisited, particularly by Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz, who came to watch the presentation.

“It's great to see something like this,” Mr. Montz said. “As we all know, the county certainly needs to address its [courthouse] situation and we need to address ours. I'd just like to see us continue to move forward with something here. I want to see some kind of end come to all this so the whole courthouse talk can be wrapped up and we can move on to other things.”

Since last spring, Tiffin and Seneca County officials have discussed the possibility of building a combined city-county courthouse.

As it is now, Mr. Montz said security is lacking at Tiffin Municipal Court.

“About once a year they’ll be taking a prisoner to court and the next thing you know, he’s running out the door,” the mayor explained. “I know both the city and county have definite needs.”

After the meeting, Mrs. Stacy indicated she is interested in entertaining ideas about a future home for the local justice system.

“I think right now it’s a blank drawing board,” she said. “If we can work into something that benefits the city and the county, that would be great. The key is that it would be something that is efficient and effective.”

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