Making progress

Construction at the Lyon County Government Center isn’t over, but features like new courtrooms are now in service

While some finishing touches like wall paneling still need to be put in, new courtrooms at the Lyon County Government Center are now complete enough to use. The new courtrooms are bigger than the old ones, and have some more traditional features, like jury boxes.

MARSHALL

It’s been a long road for construction work at the Lyon County Government Center. Work on a three-story building addition started in summer 2015, and it’s going to continue through this winter, said Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg. However, it’s easy to see the progress that has been made so far — the outside of the addition is complete, and members of the public have been making use of new meeting rooms and new courtrooms since November.

Now that construction of the building addition is complete, work at the government center has turned to finishing the interior of the addition, and remodeling part of the existing building. Some of the offices at the government center, like Probation and the Lyon County administrator’s offices, have moved into the new space. Others, like the county auditor/treasurer and recorder offices, are waiting their turn. The Lyon County District Courts are in between — court is now being held in two new courtrooms in the addition, while the court administration office is still in its old location.

The transition to new courtrooms started in mid-November, said Lyon County Court Administrator Karen Bierman.

“The old (courtrooms) don’t exist anymore,” Bierman said. They’re currently being gutted as part of the renovation process.

The catch, however, is that the areas under renovation are between the court offices and the new courtrooms. A trail of signs directs people to check in at the office, and then take a detour down to the second floor and back up a flight of stairs to reach the new courtrooms.

“It’s just a matter of directing people to the right place,” Bierman said.

While the renovations are adding a little distance to get there, Bierman said the new courtrooms are working well.

“We’ve been getting a lot of compliments about the sound quality, and the logistics of the courtrooms,” she said. The new courtrooms are larger than the old ones, and have a more traditional layout than the old 1970s-era courtrooms. And while most people won’t get a chance to see it, the new courtrooms have a separate, secure corridor and elevator connecting to the Lyon County Law Enforcement Center. The secure areas will allow defendants in custody to be brought to court without the possibility of interacting with bystanders.

As the renovations progress, the court administration offices will eventually move to the 6th Street side of the government center, Bierman said. The move will make room for a secure corridor leading to judges’ and jury chambers, she said.

On the government center’s second floor, some of the newly-renovated rooms opened up in early December. The Lyon County Board had its first meeting in a new commissioners’ chamber  on Dec. 8. Stomberg said the new meeting room can seat 60 people or more, depending on how seats are configured. The room also has a new sound system, and large computer screens that can be used to display information during commissioners’ meetings.

Stomberg said secure hallways also connect to the commissioners’ chamber. Security was a component of all the renovations at the government center, Stomberg said.

Near the commissioners’ chamber are meeting rooms of different sizes, which Stomberg said can also stand in for a jury deliberation room if one is needed during the renovation process.

Some of the more visible additions to the second floor of the government center are service windows and cubicle space for the county auditor/treasurer, recorder, appraiser and driver’s license offices. Service staff for the offices will be located toward the front of the new space, near the service windows, Stomberg said.

While it’s not completely finished yet, the second floor outside the county offices will have a wide public corridor.

“You can see from one end to the other. It’s good for security, and it will be more convenient,” Stomberg said.

There will still be more work and more rearranging to do as renovations continue, Stomberg said. In the future, county offices will move into the new space on the second floor, while public health offices will move into the old county commissioners’ chambers. That space is currently serving as temporary offices for other county departments.

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