Judicial Center Board holds first meeting

Posted October 20, 2020 at 1:53 pm

The Clinton County Judicial Center Project Board held its initial meeting via teleconference last Friday morning, October 16.

The board, will be charged to oversee the new Clinton County Judicial Center Project’s workings from the start of the over $18 million project through to its completion, working in conjunction with the judiciary’s AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts).

The seven member PDB (Planning Development Board) consists of Clinton County Judge-Executive Ricky Craig, Chairman; Vice-Chairman, Clinton Circuit Clerk Jake Staton; Dr. Tracy Cross; Circuit Judge David L. Williams; District Judge Mike Lawson; Commonwealth’s Attorney Jesse Stockton and Clinton County Attorney Michael Rains.

AOC approached the Clinton County Fiscal Court about the funding available for a local Judicial Center and the needs for such a facility several months ago, and the project process was slowed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The primary reason for the need for a new center to house all judicial related offices was safety reasons and the lack of security at the Clinton County Courthouse, especially during court proceedings.

Very little action was taken at last week’s meeting, where the only votes being taken was to elect Staton as vice-chairman of the board. However, lengthy discussions were held on other issues related to the Judicial Center planning process, according to judge/executive Craig.

Officials apparently plan to advertise for an architect/engineer on the project in November and will advertise in two publications, the Clinton County News locally and statewide in the Lexington-Herald.

Bidders will apparently have until January of 2021 to submit bids, which will then be reviewed and ranked by the AOC, which will make its recommendations and send them to the full board for consideration.

It was noted that the Clinton County Judicial Center was one of at least four or five such judicial centers currently in the works in Kentucky.

During the initial meeting with county officials pertaining to constructing a local Judicial Center here, it was noted that officials would apparently require the facility to be in the city limits and preferably close to the existing courthouse.

Also, once the engineers and architects are chosen and in place, the AOC will allow anyone with property to sell for use of such a facility to submit proposals and any property suitable would be appraised, but apparently the AOC will not pay any amount over fair market appraised value on any property.

Judge Craig also said the board discussed, but took no official action on, whether to hire a project manager or construction manager for the project and also on the agenda was discussion on the PDB’s tasks, duties and responsibilities.

Craig did say the next meeting of the full board was scheduled for February 19 of next year and will hopefully be open to the public by that time.

Once completed, the AOC will pay the total cost for upkeep of the facility for the first 20 years. It currently leases the space for judicial related offices in the courthouse.

The project could take three to four years to complete in its entirety, but the bidding and preliminary processes in finding a location are moving quickly and work is expected to begin sometime in 2021.

Judge Craig has stated a Judicial Center, which several area counties, such as Cumberland and others have, could be a boost in different ways for Clinton County and Albany.