Montezuma County’s new 22nd Judicial District combined courthouse is about 65 percent complete, on budget and on schedule to be completed by August, officials said Friday.
The $8.3 million project is on North Park Street just south of the county jail.
“It’s a well-designed building, and we have a good construction team,” said Brian Kail, superintendent for Jaynes Construction, the project’s general contractor.
The 32,400-square-foot judicial center has a Southwestern feel, thanks to a Native American kiva design out front, instead of typical courthouse pillars.
“The kiva room is a real distinct feature that will be used for jury instruction and public events,” Kail said Friday during a tour. “The circular design combined with walls leaning to the center was an interesting challenge for builders. They loved it.”
Public convenience and efficiency are the hallmarks of the new combined courthouse, said owners representative Monte Guiles.
“While it will be very nice, it’s not opulent and has a very utilitarian and functional design,” he said.
It will house two county courtrooms, two district courtrooms, judge chambers, jury deliberation rooms, court clerk and records offices, probation department, family court, legal library and holding cells for inmates. The courthouse has a certified rating under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.
Kail said the main public hall will impress visitors with its 20-foot-high ceiling, natural lighting and wood-plank flooring.
“It will be a real pretty hallway and will access all the courtrooms,” he said.
Safety and security are a primary focus of the building. Secure sally ports in the back are where prisoners will be escorted into holding cells before entering courtrooms. Court clerks are protected by bulletproof glass, security gates can be triggered to drop, and there are cameras everywhere.
“The judges have toured their courtrooms and have worked with us on the design,” Guiles said. “It is a much more secure facility than the current courts, and because everything is under one roof, it’s much more convenient for the public and staff. Plus there is plenty of parking.”
He said the 22nd Judicial District, Jaynes Construction and Humphries Poli Architects understood the financial crunch the county faced funding the project, which was required by the state. Montezuma County is the last in the state to combine county and district courts into one courthouse.
“This was tough on the county, and we worked hard to adhere to their tight budget,” Guiles said.
Original estimates put the project at $11 million, and after several months of “value engineering” meetings, the price came down to $8.3 million. The Department of Local Affairs kicked in $2.5 million in grants, and $5.8 million came out of the county’s general fund.
A $500,000 grant from the state’s underfunded courts program will be used for courtroom interior design to create an atmosphere of judicial gravitas, including acoustic paneling, decorative hardwood and custom entryways.
“The courtrooms will have that appropriate sense of grandeur,” Guiles said.
About 20 subcontractors are on the job, including local companies Cruzan Construction, S&S Construction, ME&E Engineering and Trautner Geotech.
“An any given day, we have 50 to 60 workers on site,” Kail said. “A lot of them are staying in local hotels, and are eating out a lot at local restaurants.”