County to partner with state authorities on courthouse overhaul
by Christopher Crosby, Staff Writer Sun Journal May 20, 2015
PARIS — The Oxford County courthouse could see a multimillion dollar overhaul in the next few years, state planners told county commissioners Tuesday.
State Court Administrator James Glessner confirmed earlier reports the courthouse is one of three being considered for funding requests that will be submitted in the next legislative session. He said state officials intend to make the 1895 brick building more efficient and secure.
The two-story courthouse on Western Avenue houses Oxford County Superior Court, county administrative offices, Registry of Deeds Office for the Eastern Division and the assistant district attorney's offices.
A time line for renovations was not known and final approval for any work will have to go through the Legislature for funding, which would happen next year at the earliest.
State planners have spent millions upgrading courthouses in recent years. In 2009, a $36.4 million Penobscot Judicial Center combined the former Bangor District Court and Penobscot County Superior Court. This spring, the Capital Judicial Center opened in Augusta, combining the Kennebec County Superior Court and Augusta District Court to the tune of $57 million. A $8.5 million addition to the Washington County Courthouse is underway.
Glessner said most projects are fully funded by the state, though joint alternatives to tailor them to the county's needs were not out of the question.
Currently, one of the issues at the courthouse is "mixing populations" where the public, staff, prisoners, jurors and judges all have the chance of mingling to get around inside the courthouse, Glessner said.
Ideally, upon completion, the public won't be walking the same routes as prisoners, and defendants and jurors won't brush shoulders.
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