Court consolidation on track in Dover-Foxcroft

Posted Feb. 28, 2011, at 5:47 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — For those people who reported to Dover-Foxcroft District Court on Monday, the proposed consolidation of District and Superior courts into the Piscataquis County Superior Courthouse couldn’t come soon enough.

The district courtroom, a former private home, is typically jam-packed with defendants, victims and witnesses, and Monday was no different. As has been the case in the past, there were so many defendants that everyone else was asked to leave the courtroom, a move that left one young woman, who was making her first court appearance, in tears.

Change is coming soon to improve the situation, say state officials.

Bids for the proposed renovation of the Superior Courthouse to make room for a district courtroom are expected to be solicited soon, according to Jeff Henthorn, state director of court facilities. The project, not to exceed $5 million, has already been bonded, he said.

‘’Our goal here is to have a contractor hired and working on the project by May 2, and … to have construction completed by March 31, 2012,’’ Henthorn said recently.

Henthorn said the state is in the process of finalizing the blueprints, a step that needs to be taken before bids are solicited.

The renovation project will now include two additions, Henthron said. A small addition in the rear of the brick building will allow for an entrance to a holding area on the lower level and a judge’s chamber on the second floor.

A second addition will go on the full length of the building next to the District Court building and will wrap around the front of the structure. This move, Henthron said, will provide more space for the Registry of Deeds, which will be relocated from the second floor to the first floor. It also will allow the clerk’s office to be relocated from the District Court building to the second floor of the Superior Court building. As a result, all county court business would be conducted on the second floor.

A second elevator will be added to the building, one for prisoner transport to the courthouse and the other for public use, according to Henthorn. Screening devices will be erected near the entrances, but staffing of them still remains a budget issue, he noted.

As a result of the renovation, the offices of the Piscataquis County commissioners, the finance administrator and the county treasurer will be relocated into the district courthouse. The state has agreed to do minor renovations to that building before the move.

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