Officials, residents dedicate new Justice Center in ceremony

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People explore the Routt County Justice Center for the first time Wednesday during a building dedication ceremony and open house. Court offices will begin moving into the new building this weekend.

— In the early 1920s, fourth-generation Steamboat Springs resident Jim Zulevich's great-grandfather was said to have supplied the stones used to build the original Routt County Courthouse.

On Wednesday, Zulevich slathered a dollop of "ceremonial cement" to place a time capsule and symbolic cornerstone in the new Routt County Justice Center, which officially opened its doors during a grand opening ceremony for the public.

Zulevich said he was honored to be a part of the three-hour ceremony.

"It was very important for me to be a part of history," he said. "It's a true honor."

Wednesday's ceremony included a presentation by the Masonic Grand Lodge of Colorado to set the time capsule and cornerstone, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and an open house.

The time capsule, which included newspapers, photos of the construction projects, coins, children's artwork, the county's 2007 budget, maps of the county and other memorabilia, was placed in clear box to the right of the building's main entrance. A large granite cornerstone will be placed over the capsule.

Daniel Gannon, junior grand steward for the Masonic Grand Lodge, said there are 850 similar cornerstones that masons have placed in Colorado buildings.

"The laying of a cornerstone goes back to the dark halls of time, back to the earliest civilizations," he said. "From this one cornerstone, all other measurements and calculations would originate."

During the ceremonial placing of the cornerstone, more than two dozen Routt County officials and community members took a turn spreading the "cement" on the brick building.

Zulevich, a retired mason, was charged with permanently placing the cornerstone.

"I mix a good batch of cement," he said as he swung a trowel. "It'll bond good."

Like Zulevich, 14th Judicial District Chief Judge Michael O'Hara said he couldn't help but think about what was said when the Routt County Courthouse was dedicated in 1923.

"I stand here 84 years later, in awe and excitement," O'Hara said. "As people walk through these doors, I hope everyone will take pride in this beautiful building knowing it will serve generations to come."

Grand Master John J. Harrington conducted the symbolic masonic ceremony and told the crowd of about 150 people to take the ceremony seriously.

"It's a magnificent building, the pride of the community," he said.

Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said completing the 52,000-square-foot, $18 million Justice Center was not only a huge accomplishment for the county, but the first step in moving forward with projects to remodel the old Routt County Courthouse and its adjacent Annex.

"This, for us as commissioners, is only the beginning," she said. "We still have a lot to do. To be quite honest, we can hardly wait for the courts to get moved out so we can start remodeling and making more room for county offices."

Court staff, including the District Attorney's Office, is scheduled to move into the new building this weekend.

"This is truly a historic day that has been long in coming," O'Hara said.

Commissioners Diane Mit-sch-Bush and Doug Monger summed the moment perfectly as they cut a red ribbon signaling the end of the ceremony.

"Woo hoo," they yelled in unison.

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