Nearly two decades later, Monroe County Justice Center finally breaks ground

$33 million center gets underway

A ceremony was held Wednesday to put the first shovels in the ground for the new Monroe County Justice Center.

Construction on the new $33 million Justice Center will begin later this week. County officials said Wednesday it’s long overdue and are relieved to finally have this project underway.

“It’s been a long process and it’s finally coming to action,” Monroe County Board Chair James Kuhn said.

Kuhn has been working to get a new Justice Center built since he started on the board 14 years ago.

“A lot of frustration,” Kuhn laughs.

Construction should take about two years, one phase per year.

“We’re building the jail and some of the offices now, and roughly half of the building,” Kuhn said.

“After that is completed then the old jail is going to be torn down and the inmates will be moved to the new jail and they will start to build the sheriff’s department on the first floor and the courts and related facilities on the second floor,” Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Dave Rice said.

The new Justice Center will finally have enough space to house all inmates, which Rice said is going to help keep tax dollars in Monroe County.

“It means we aren’t going to have to spend close to $1 million a year housing prisoners out of the county and transporting them back and forth,” he said.

Rice said he has lived in Monroe County his entire life and seen this project from many different sides, but said he always had faith a new Justice Center would be built.

“Something that’s been on the table this long, it’s got to happen someday. I think the public got worn down and decided now is the time,” Rice said.

The judge said the design of the new Justice Center was chosen to compliment the historic nature of the buildings around it.

The county budgeted about $28 million for this project, but contractor bids brought the total up to $33 million. The county board is still figuring out how to make up the remaining $5 million.