|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
Ceremonial opening of Judicial Center draws a crowd
BY THOMAS J. TAYLOR
LIVINGSTON — The new Judicial Center on W. Abbey St. hosted an open house Tuesday afternoon in celebration of the building’s completion. The dedication ceremony was held in Courtroom A where attendees filed in until there was standing room only. The invocation was given by Rev. Curtis Hester and County Judge John Thompson served as Master of Ceremonies. Courtroom facilities in the historic Polk County Courthouse were too small for the needs of a growing county, said Thompson “the limited space made efficiency less than what it should be. Here we can offer the quality of services that our citizens deserve.” The confined quarters on the second floor of the county courthouse often put suspects, victims, witnesses, staff and participants in family court proceedings within arm’s reach of each other. Five points of entry to the 1923 courthouse complicated efforts to secure the building. Three inmates attempted escapes in recent years during courtroom appearances. The project required a complete renovation and remodeling of the existing buildings that anchor both ends of the facility, however J.E. Kingham Construction Co. left some historical elements in place such as exposed iron support beams in the Ford Building and refurbished brick walls that were original to the building. Kingham’s crews developed a new technique for distressing the new brick used so that it matched that the historic buildings. Despite the extent of work done, Thompson announced that the project had come in under budget, thanking again the collaborative efforts of the construction manager and Hester + Hester Architects. Speaker Mark Wolfe, Executive Director of the Texas Historical Commission, admired downtown Livingston as the quintessential “Main Street feel” tied to a tradition of small town community. The design of the new building embodies this tradition while serving its modern purpose more efficiently. After the dedication, guests were ushered outside where they joined Miss Polk County 2011 Brooke Haynes and Thompson for the ribbon cutting. Standing before the entrance the crowd joined together to count down for the symbolic snip and applauded as the pieces fell. Afterward, guests were invited back into the lobby for refreshments and tours of the building. The landscaping on the square was organized by the Polk County Garden Club and Landscape Committee. The refreshments were provided by Polk County Aging Services. District Judges Elizabeth Coker and Robert Hill Trapp were unable to attend the ceremony due to a required Judicial conference in Austin. Enterprise Editor Valerie Reddell contributed to this story.