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A look at the courthouse 'courts wing' - Commissioners tour new addition

After a year's worth of construction and haggling over change orders, the Becker County Board of Commissioners got a chance to see what all the fuss was about Tuesday morning, as they toured the new courthouse addition.

And while there are still a few last-minute finishing touches to be worked out, Court Administrator Brian Berg said the county is on target to move in next week.

"We're planning for a June 19-20 move-in," he said.

The biggest change the public will notice is that the court administrator's office will be located on the ground floor, along with the main courtroom where most misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors will be tried. This courtroom will not include a jury box, Berg noted.

"Eighty percent of the people who come into the courts will remain on this (ground) floor," Berg said, noting that the upper levels will include two additional courtrooms, each fully equipped with video monitors and a jury box. The new courtrooms will allow greater privacy for jurors as well as a media room where reporters can view and listen to the proceedings through one-way glass, providing for fewer disruptions as they enter and exit the courtroom.

The county attorney's offices, judges' chambers and law clerk's offices will also be housed here, Berg said.

Prisoners will also be able to be moved back and forth between the jail on the far side of the courthouse and the new addition through a secured walkway that will be accessed by non-public elevators.

Earlier in the morning, the commissioners held their regular meeting. They approved several actions, including:

n Acceptance of an additional $5,000 in grant funding from the state to offset costs from Remote Electronic Home Monitoring of county residents allowed to serve out their criminal sentences at home rather than at the jail. The county has already received $15,000 from the state this year to help with this program.

n Acceptance of agreements between the Becker County Sheriff's Department and Festivals And Concert Events (FACE), Inc., for law enforcement and traffic control at the 10,000 Lakes Festival, to be held at the Soo Pass Ranch south of Detroit Lakes on July 23-26; and WE Fest, set for the same location on Aug. 7-9. The cost for enforcement at 10KLF was set at $31,241, with another $9,678 for traffic. The WE Fest contract will basically stay the same as last year, according to Sheriff Tim Gordon, with $15,400 for enforcement and another $15,846 for traffic.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454