Bibb’s Juvenile Justice Center work on schedule; fall opening likely

awomack@macon.comApril 1, 2014 

Handprint_Feature

Children put their handprints in concrete Tuesday in front of the Thomas Jackson Juvenile Justice Center on Oglethorpe Street in Macon.

WOODY MARSHALL — wmarshall@macon.com Buy Photo

Bibb County’s new Juvenile Justice Center should be finished by July, with an anticipated opening this fall.

Workers are applying final coats of paint, finishing cabinets and trim work and installing security cameras at the Thomas Jackson Juvenile Justice Center.

Flooring at the center, located at the corner of Second and Oglethorpe streets, will be installed in the next month or so. Parking lots also must be prepared and paved, said Warren Selby, president of Warren Associates Inc., the company building the facility.

Selby said he expects the construction portion of the project to come in under budget, although exact numbers aren’t available because the project isn’t complete. The center is being funded by $7 million from a special purpose sales tax initiative.

“It’s looking nice in there,” Tom Matthews, Bibb County Juvenile Court’s chief judge said Tuesday.

Matthews said he hopes furniture will be in place by July 1.

A fall opening date is anticipated, said Chris Floore, a Macon-Bibb County spokesman.

The goal of building the 27,000-square-foot facility is to put all of the county’s juvenile justice services under one roof while also providing extra office space.

The facility also will provide children accused of crimes with privacy not afforded at the county courthouse, where they walk the same halls as adults in trouble with the law.

When Juvenile Court moves from its current home on the top floor of the Bibb County Courthouse, the county’s State Court solicitor, State Court clerk and State Court judges are set to move into the vacant space, Solicitor Rebecca Grist said.

State Court, which handles Bibb County’s misdemeanor cases and some civil cases, is bursting at the seams in cramped quarters, also on the courthouse’s top floor.

The state Legislature created a second judgeship for the court last year after a 2012 study by the Council of State Court Judges showed Bibb County had enough work for 2.22 full-time judges. The state’s Criminal Justice Reform Act also reclassified some theft and shoplifting cases as misdemeanors that previously were handled in Superior Court, affecting the court’s caseload.

Grist said an architect has drawn plans to update and renovate the current Juvenile Court space. Along with changes to the office space, renovations include construction of an additional State Court courtroom on the fifth floor.

Although there aren’t any cost estimates yet, the project would be funded by sales tax revenue.

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