Open house Friday, Saturday for county’s new Justice Center

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RBC I All appears to be 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 Jaquez, who is overseeing the project for the county, said Monday that the county should have its certificate of occupancy this week 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,” Jaquez 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 98 percent complete with the interior of the Justice Center,” Jaquez 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.
Jaquez said there will be two community open houses this weekend, one on Friday from 2 to 6 p.m., planned for an open house and facility tour and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for an open house and tour of the jail facility.
Regarding the current courthouse, Jaquez 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.
Jaquez said that as far as transferring departments from the current courthouse, the second floor, which includes the county clerk and recorder and the Division of Motor Vehicles have been moved to 1032 Jennifer Drive, a leased building that should be operational by today. The Assessor’s Office should be moved and operational by Feb. 27 and the Treasurer’s Office by March 9.
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, Jaquez 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, Jaquez said that 54 total wells were drilled that have been tested and are ready to go.
Thirty-two of those wells go for the Justice Center and 22 wells will be used for the courthouse, utilizing one main system.
“This is kind of an exciting time for us,” Jaquez 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.”