Work winding down on new county justice center for Rio Blanco County

Although it is draped in several inches of snow, the new Rio Blanco County Justice Center is nearing completion at its new location on Main Street in Meeker. Except for the landscaping, which will be done in the spring, the work on the building’s exterior is complete and the entire center should be finished in time for an open house and tours in mid-March. The dispatch center and jail will be the first two departments to be moved into the center.

Although it is draped in several inches of snow, the new Rio Blanco County Justice Center is nearing completion at its new location on Main Street in Meeker. Except for the landscaping, which will be done in the spring, the work on the building’s exterior is complete and the entire center should be finished in time for an open house and tours in mid-March. The dispatch center and jail will be the first two departments to be moved into the center.
Although it is draped in several inches of snow, the new Rio Blanco County Justice Center is nearing completion at its new location on Main Street in Meeker. Except for the landscaping, which will be done in the spring, the work on the building’s exterior is complete and the entire center should be finished in time for an open house and tours in mid-March. The dispatch center and jail will be the first two departments to be moved into the center.
RBC I All appears to going well and progressing on schedule for the new Rio Blanco County Justice Center on Main Street in Meeker, the site of the old Meeker Elementary School.
Rio Blanco County Planner Eric Jauquez, who is overseeing the project for the county, said Monday that the county is looking at its certificate of occupancy for Jan. 22 for all portions of the project except landscaping, which will be completed during the warmer springtime.

“Our first step will be to relocate dispatch, first by transferring a portion to Craig and a portion to Rangely,” Juaquez said. “By the end of February, we expect to be back and operational in the Justice Center.”
The second order of transition will be to locate the jail, the inmates and operations to the Justice Center by the end of the second week of March, he said, adding that the week of March 14 ought to see the transfer of the courts to the Justice Center with the courts opening in their new location the week of March 21.
“I would say we are about 97 percent complete with the interior of the Justice Center,” Juaquez said. “We have the cells in, the kitchen is in and we are now staying busy with lots of testing on the various systems we have.”
He said no offices will be put in place in the Justice Center before dispatch and retention (the jail) are in place and operational, and that when the dispatch and retention departments go into the center, the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office will join them.
Juaquez said there will be two community open houses on Feb. 19 with that afternoon planned for an open house of the building and the morning of Feb. 20 will feature tours of the jail area.
Regarding the current courthouse, Juaquez said the courthouse design planning is underway currently, funded by a $200,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA).
“We expect to have the design for the courthouse completed by April 1, then we will begin the abatement work,” he said.
Juaquez said that as far as transferring departments from the current courthouse, the second floor, which is the county treasurer, the county clerk and recorder, the Division of Motor Vehicles and county assessor will be the first to move. They will be moved to the county building located at 1032 Jennifer Dr. the week of Feb. 8 and will be operational by Feb. 18.
Next, the Budget office and the Sales and Use Tax Department will be moved to the Freeman E. Fairfield Building at 200 East Main St., at the same time the county commissioners will be moved to the justice center for the one year of construction on the county courthouse. When the courthouse work is complete, the commissions will move into the remodeled courthouse.
Meanwhile the Internet Technology (IT) and Geo Information Systems will be moved to the Meeker High School administration building while the courthouse work is being done.
Regarding the courthouse project, Juaquez said it should almost be an exact year as all departments are expected to be in their full-time office spaces by February 2017.
Regarding the geothermal wells sunk to provide cheaper and easier heating for the two-building complex, Juaquez said that 54 total wells were drilled, tested and are ready to go.
Thirty-two wells are for the justice center and 22 wells are for the courthouse, utilizing one main system.
“This is kind of an exciting time for us,” Juaquez said. “Here we are having to finish up one project that has gone really well and now we are ramping up another project with the courthouse. “I—and I think the county—are pretty excited about both.”