Consolidated court opens in Houlton

Posted April 17, 2009, at 9 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:49 a.m.

HOULTON, Maine — The doors of the historic Aroostook County Superior Court building opened Friday to show off a modern makeover that officials praised as a great example of collaboration and consolidation that will benefit residents for years to come.

State, county, municipal and court dignitaries joined Maine Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley on Friday during a brief ceremony to officially reopen the building .

The event, which was held at the newly refurbished courthouse, marked the conclusion of a $2.5 million project that has put the offices of Houlton District Court and the Superior Court under one roof.

“What we have here is a court building that works well and is beautiful,” Saufley told the crowd. “This project also came in on time and on budget. This building is much more energy efficient, and the security here is much better.”

Construction on the facility began after the Legislature agreed last year to move forward with the project.

The Superior Court building has undergone extensive renovation. A second courtroom has been created along with two new clerk’s offices. The older courtroom is brighter and more airy with a new rug and a drop-down ceiling. The facility sports a more modern jury deliberation room and a law library, a more secure judge’s chamber, two elevators and a new heating and airflow system.

Features in the building are now compliant with standards set forth by the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.

Saufley lauded everyone involved in the project and read a letter from Gov. John Baldacci, who could not make it to the ceremony.

Baldacci congratulated all those involved and praised the District and Superior Court staff for consolidating, saying that “the benefits from the consolidation can only add to what our courts have to offer.”

Paul Adams, chairman of the Aroostook County commissioners, said he also was proud of how the project turned out, classifying it as “a partnership between the court system and the county.”

County commissioners began talking about consolidating the two buildings about three years ago after a pipe burst in the District Court building and forced the staff to work out of Superior Court. The ease with which the clerks made the transition prompted the county to consider a permanent consolidation project.

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