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Jackson County Justice Center

SCC-JessicaWaldronIn the monthly meeting of the Jackson County Commissioners on Monday County Manager Chuck Wooten gave a progress report on the proposed renovation of the Jackson County Justice Center. It was reported several months ago that Superior Court Judge Brad Letts had spoken with Mr Wooten and the Commissioners about the current the growing need for courtroom space at the Jackson County Justice Center. The Commissioners decided to follow-up on recommendations to seek the advice of the Heery International company who had designed the renovations to the Haywood County County Courthouse. Many in the legal profession hold up that facility as a model which is adequate to meet both current and long term judicial processing needs. Consultants from Heery International have conducted both site visits and interviews from current occupants of the building in order to assess both the wish list needs and the absolute needs. Wooten reported to the Commissioners in February that specific needs included more building security, additional court and mediation rooms, separate secure entrances so the victims of crimes and the person facing charges for those crimes do not have to enter the courtroom by the same entrance, also building facilities from heating and air conditioning to additional Americans With Disabilities Act compliance standards. According to County Manager Chuck Wooten the commissioners will hear the report from Heery International Associated at their next meeting. One action already completed is the movement of the District Attorney into the space formerly occupied by the Jackson County Board of Elections after that agency moved to the Skyland Services Center. The planning and design process could cost the county upwards of three quarters of a million dollars. Some have speculated that the future needs of the building would require an addition of thirty five thousand square feet of space. The construction costs of the building twenty years ago was eighteen million dollars. Estimates are the additional 35,000 square feet in floor space could cost the county about a 100 thousand dollars a year to maintain and secure.  During each meeting there tends to be time set aside for the commissioners to appoint individuals to serve on county boards. There are twelve such boards each with up to a dozen members who are appointed to their position for up to three year terms and often reappointed and serve the maximum number of years. In some of the  board positions the members are paid for their services such as those on the ABC Board who are paid 150 dollars plus travel to attend the meetings. The Chair of the Board will receive 250 dollars and travel for each meeting. In March County Manager Wooten reported to the Commissioners on what he perceived as a need to audit the performance of these Boards and establish evaluative criteria including attendance reports and a review of the minutes of the meetings as well as publishing the assignments for each of the boards.