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State-of-the-art justice facility opens in Pottawatomie County

By Maura Wery

A courtroom that allows judges to decide which jurors see certain video and audio evidence. A 76-person max capacity jail. Those features and more are inside the new Pottawatomie County Justice Center, the first portion of which opens Aug. 19.

The $14 million center is designed to replace the existing courthouse in Westmoreland.

The 65,000-square-foot facility was built north of the old courthouse and will house most of the county’s law enforcement functions. Those include the county jail, courtrooms, the county attorney’s office and the district court offices.

The project has had some bumps along the way.

Bidders complained about the bidding process. One bidder was almost disqualified from the bidding process because he didn’t add the geothermal heating/cooling to the base bid.

The original plan called for the sheriff’s office to be in the building, but the plans were changed to put the office in the county shops area.

And more recently, a leaky jail cell forced the contractor to re-construct a drainage system in the roof to prevent leaks during excessive rainfall.

Despite the bumps, the main structure was finished by the planned late-June completion date. Once the new facility is open to employees, the old courthouse and sheriff’s annex will be demolished.

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