When a report estimating cost and space needs for a new animal shelter came back with a staggering price tag — the report estimated a cost of $5.4 to $6.6 million — Jackson County commissioners had to catch a breath and start rethinking their planned timeline of capital construction.
Tony Lossiah was a good man, a quiet guy with a caring heart. He loved his family and worked hard on the job, say the friends and family still mourning his loss in the tightknit Cherokee community.
Starting Sept. 28, employees and visitors to the Jackson County Justice and Administration Building will no longer have their choice of doors through which to reach their destination. Instead, the building will become a one-entrance-only building, with a security guard and metal detector stationed at the door.
Security upgrades are on the way at the Jackson County Justice Center, but commissioners have decided to hold off on any expansion of the lobby area — at least for now.
The exploration of inadequacies at the Jackson County Justice Center has been years in the making, but it’s looking like — for now, at least — the solution will focus on ramping up security and leave the issue of space for another time.
“There’s two issues I want to bring to your attention, issues I’ve been bringing to your attention for the last 10 years,” Superior Court Judge Bradley Letts told commissioners at their annual planning retreat last week.
It’s not every day that the scent of barbecue meatballs wafts through the open doors of a jail filled with smiling people wearing slacks, sport coats and blouses. But it’s also not every day that a sovereign nation finishes building its first-ever justice facility.
“This is not just about a building,” said Principle Chief Michell Hicks as he prepared to cut the ribbon on the $26-million building in a ceremony that had nearly all of the building’s 175 parking spaces full. “It’s not just about having a place to put our stuff. We’re going to change who we are as a people.”
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will open its new state-of-the-art, $26 million Cherokee Justice Center on Dec. 17 following two years of construction.
Late last month, Superior Court Judge Bradley Letts wrote a letter. “He kind of drew a line in the sand,” said Jackson County Manager Chuck Wooten.
Sitting in the judge’s seat, Jackson County Commissioners Chairman Jack Debnam took a look around. He absorbed the courtroom, glanced down at Commissioner Doug Cody on the witness stand and County Manager Chuck Wooten in the jury box.
The verdict is in, and Jackson County Justice Center is a little too small. To be exact, it’s 35,807 square feet too small.
At least according to the results of a needs assessment by Heery International, the same company that designed and built the Haywood County courthouse in the early 2000s.