Trio of community members speak in favor of potential new courthouse at old Kmart building
As Moffat County Commissioners Ray Beck, Don Cook and Donald Broom weigh their options when it comes to renovating the old Kmart building into a new county courthouse, or potentially building a new addition onto the current courthouse to become ADA compliant, among other things, the three commissioners turned to the community for input Tuesday in the first of three public hearings surrounding the issue.
On Tuesday morning inside commissioners’ chambers, a trio of community members spoke in support of a proposed new courthouse utilizing the old Kmart building. No community members spoke against the potential purchase and renovation.
Prior to the opening of the meeting to public comment, Roy Tipton, Director of Development Services, gave a roughly 20 minute presentation on the current courthouse issues, as well as the proposed floor plan and construction cost for the new courthouse, as well as a possible renovation of the current courthouse.
Longtime community member Ken Wergin spoke first in favor of the proposed renovation of the old Kmart building, citing safety concerns for law enforcement and workers at the current courthouse.
“I am concerned about the safety of people that have to come in and be seen by a jury and give their own testimony, among other things,” Wergin said. “…I think it’s very imperative that we solve this. As a citizen, I want it to be done well and in a proper way using tax money.”
Moffat County Facility Director Lennie Gillam stepped forward after Wergin and spoke in favor of a new courthouse at the Kmart building. Citing his roughly 20 years as a maintenance worker and director for the county, Gillam pushed for the community to support the purchase and renovation of the Kmart building.
“…I’ve seen the way we’ve spent the money as a county, and as a taxpayer myself, I feel that we’re throwing good money after bad with this current courthouse,” Gillam said. “I applaud everyone involved with this project for looking forward and looking for a logical solution to a problem that isn’t going away. ….If we can take care of this now and save ourselves money from the future, we need to do it.”
Following Gillam’s testimony, former Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz stepped forward to speak in favor of a new courthouse at the Kmart building.
“We all know what’s coming in the future, so I ask the county commissioners to look at outside communities to bolster your stance,” Jantz said. “Look at other communities that have been court-ordered to build new jail facilities, courthouses, or detention facilities. Look at Garfield County in the 80s when they were ordered to build a new courthouse; it damn near broke them.
“…We need to look to the future, not only for this generation, but the next. What are we going to do that is economically viable for this community?” Jantz said. “So I applaud the commissioners and the Judicial District for working through this…the current building is obsolete and the building is a huge risk to people that work here and people that come here. I think the Kmart building is a prime location and I’m absolutely in favor of it.”
Following Jantz’s comments, commissioners opened up the hearing to those against a new courthouse. No community members in attendance stepped forward to speak against the proposed new courthouse.
After closing the public hearing, commissioners cited the next two public hearings surrounding the issue – Oct. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the courthouse, and Oct. 13 at the next county commissioners’ meeting – as additional opportunities for community members to have their voices heard.
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