Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Warren Co. to add office in courtroom

By Perry Schaible
Enquirer contributor

LEBANON - Cramped conditions at the Warren County Courthouse have led to planned renovations that will include the removal of two rows of seating in the courtroom to make way for an office.

The Warren County Commissioners Tuesday authorized Judge Dallas Powers to proceed with a plan to add the office for Court Administrator and Chief Bailiff Dick Kilburn.

"We're short on space over here for one thing," Kilburn said Tuesday, stressing the need for additional space.

The court system has seen a jump in cases in recent years in this fast-growing county.

"For the last couple of years we've been increasing, case load wise, by a couple thousand cases a year," said Clerk of Court Terry Smith.

The number of cases before Warren County judges grew to 16,318 in 2003, up 2,616 from 2002. But, Smith said, the increase seems to have leveled off or even decreased this year.

From Jan. 1 to June 1, officials have presided over 3,400 cases compared to 5,200 during the same period in 2003.That decrease hasn't helped with space issues at the courthouse, at 550 Justice Drive.

The new office will be added to the northeast corner of the existing courtroom and will exit into the main hallway.

Jake Jones, county service director, plans to start work on the office as soon as possible.

No cost estimate has been released for the project. It will be paid for with court funds.

Powers told commissioners Tuesday he wants to upgrade the entire courtroom. That project could include the installation of a flat ceiling, new light fixtures and upholstered theater seating, and replacing the existing oak with cherry.

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