Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom expects the new courtroom under construction next to the county law enforcement center/jail to be completed around the first of the year. Work is now moving quickly on the facility that will house felony docket calls and felony court cases. He noted that with the sale of the county annex at 110 and 118 Main Street, now under contract, work should begin soon on a new building for the District Attorney and District Clerk office building that will be on the law enforcement center grounds as well.
Newsom calls the new facility safer, more innovative and more user friendly. He also noted that on jury days it will allow for more parking around Celebration Plaza since parking will be available at the new facility.
The new courtroom will also be more accommodating to a modern trial than the current second floor courtroom located in the historic courthouse. Sound and media equipment in the new courtroom will add to the flow of a trial as video used in the trial and video of the trial in the courtroom will be readily available. The room was designed with these accouterments installed. Newsom said that lawyers and judges will love the innovations included.
Newsom said the new courtroom will seat around 100 individuals with room for attorneys, judge, and jury as well. Public safety was in mind with the design and building of the new courtroom. The individual on trial will not be exposed to the public as they move in and out of the courtroom. Also, in high profile trials the ability to screen those entering the courtroom will be available without disrupting the flow of citizens needing access to courthouse services. The new courtroom will be a detached building but will eventually be connected to the jail by a covered walk way.
Cost for the new courtroom should come in under $400,000 according to Newsom.
Cost for the new courtroom should come in under $400,000 according to Newsom. The money used to build the facility is a part of the bond money acquired to build the current jail facility.
Monday during a regular session of Commissioners Court, contracts were signed for a total of $445,000 in purchase price for 110 and 118 Main Street. The Chamber of Commerce will purchase the smaller side, 118 Main Street, for $205,000 and Realtor Chris and Lisa Childress will purchase 110 Main Street for $240,000. The county will replace the roof on the building and will divide the building into two buildings with firewall as a part of the purchase agreement.
With the contracts in place, commissioners will move ahead with a set of plans now being utilized in seeking bids for the new District Attorney/District Clerk building. Newsom said the county will be working with the City of Sulphur Springs to expedite the new facility that he hopes will be occupied by the first of the year.