County to build new courthouse in Wellton
Wellton Justice Court has seen its caseload nearly double since the Border Patrol moved its checkpoint east of the Gila Mountains.
To help alleviate the burden on the diminutive court, Yuma County will construct a new, multi-use facility for both the justice court and sheriff's office which will be paid for through a lease-purchase agreement. Currently, the county is in the financing stage and is seeking proposals from lenders for approximately $2.4 million.
“The justice court and sheriff's office share a facility right now, but it is really outdated and in need of a complete overhaul,” said County Administrator Robert Pickels. “What's precipitated the need for the building's improvement is that it's not capable of handling the volume of cases that is brought in from the (BP) checkpoint.”
According to WJC chief clerk Carol Hudson, the number of cases has increased from 75 to nearly 150 per month and the court doesn't have the room to handle them.
“We really do need more room, so we are very excited to get the new building,” Hudson said.
The county initially considered renovating the existing structure, but determined it would be more prudent to construct a new facility after they analyzed the expenses.
“We've been looking at this project for a couple of years,” Pickels said. “(And) what we found was it was actually going to cost us less and be more durable to build a new building out there.”
Pickels said they are in the design phase and hope to have both the design of the new facility and the lease-purchase financing completed in January so they can begin to take bids on the project.
“It's a fairly simple design, and I think we are going to have a lot of interest from local contractors in getting this built,” he said. “If we have the project bid within the next 90 days, we should meet our timeline by getting the facility completed by the end of the summer.”
Darren DaRonco can be reached at (928) 539-6857 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on twitter @YSDarrend or on Facebook at www.faceboook.com/YSDarrenD.