The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

February 21, 2013

BREAKING: Court systems could move to Event Center

By Kim West
kwest@athensnews-courier.com

— The 39th Judicial Circuit could be moving from the downtown Limestone County Courthouse to the Limestone County Event Center to allow the ongoing courthouse renovations to be completed by mid-2014.

Commission Chairman Stanley Menefee and Brian Moore, who is the president of the project’s general contractor, Martin & Cobey, have discussed moving the county’s court operations in June.

Menefee cautioned this is only a preliminary plan but he said moving the courts to the event center would allow the renovations to be completed more quickly, and the court’s four presiding judges might have the use of four small courtrooms instead of the two courtrooms currently available at the courthouse.

“We’re looking at changing directions on the courthouse (project), which might speed it up. What we’re looking at doing is shutting down the courthouse, and moving (the courts) out to the event center — everything except for the first floor,” Menefee said Thursday.

The courthouse is slated for four courtrooms in the plans submitted by project architect 2WR, which submitted a preliminary plan earlier this month to build an elevator on the west side of the courthouse instead of using the stairwell space currently occupied by the east-side marble staircase.

A local group of historic preservations protested a previous proposal to remove the eastern staircase to build a new elevator.

Menefee said 2WR’s plan is not viable but moving the courts will enable the construction of a new elevator to take the place of the elevator that currently runs from the ground floor to the third floor of the courthouse.

“Initially we thought we were going to be able to put the elevator beside the other one (currently in operation) but because the old elevator is in the wrong position for that, it made us look at another location,” Menefee said. “If we move the courts out, I think we’re going to take the old elevator out and build a new one that will go all the way to the fourth floor.”