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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

Courthouse renovation project gets final okay
Work to include single entrance with metal detectors
Click to Enlarge
Photo by Charles Boothe: The addition that will include the only entry and exit point at the courthouse will be constructed on the south side of the building where the entrance to Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court is now.

Monday, March 24, 2014

By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer

The Franklin County Board of Supervisors has given the final go-ahead for work to start on the courthouse renovation project.

A low bid of $1.4 million from Price Buildings Inc., a Callaway construction company, has been accepted.

Work is scheduled to start next month.

Renovations include a single entrance for the public with metal detectors and x-ray equipment. The entrance will be located at the ground floor on the south side of the courthouse beside the parking lot.

All other entrances now being used will be closed to the public, including the traditional main entrance on Main Street.

During construction, a temporary entrance for the public will be on the east side across from the sheriff's offices.

One of the main goals was to segregate the general public from staff, judges and prisoners by using a single point of entry.

An elevator will be included in the addition for secure access to the courthouse's four floors.

The facility will have signs pointing people to the courtrooms, clerks offices and other routine destinations within the building.

The area between the courthouse and sheriff's office will also be secure so prisoners can move between buildings with no contact with the public.

Plans also include a comprehensive alarm system, including video surveillance.

In 2011, the board approved a change in the County Code to increase fees for anyone involved in a civil, criminal or traffic case in Franklin County by up to $3. That fee hike, which brings in about $10,000 a year, will also help pay for courthouse upgrades, said county Finance Director Vincent Copenhaver.

The project is scheduled to be completed by December.

The courthouse renovation plan is the result of a 2010 evaluation of the courthouse by the state Department of General Services (DGS), which found that all courtrooms were in noncompliance with safety and security guidelines.

The main part of the courthouse was built in 1909 and is one of only a few in the state that has no security, allowing the public to move freely in and out of several different entrances.

That report led to the board hiring the architectural firm of Thompson & Litton to design changes to place the courthouse in compliance.

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