Courthouse construction, demo continues

·5 min read

Mar. 1—Dickinson County Commissioners viewed a slide show Thursday showing construction progress at the new jail and sheriff's department, as well as demolition currently underway in the existing courthouse.

"If you visit the courthouse, we've got a lot of demo going on," said County Administrator Brad Homman. "Things are flying out of the windows upstairs."

The courthouse is now closed to the public. Most offices were temporarily relocated in February so demolition could begin.

District Court is temporarily located at Sterl Hall, while the treasurer's office, county clerk, register of deeds and planning and zoning is at the Abilene Civic Center.

Administration, the sheriff's office, jail and 911 Communications are still located in the building. People needing those services should call the respective department's phone numbers for information.

"Things are progressing as we anticipate they would be," Homman said. "The demolition is going a little slower than our construction manager would have hoped, but it is moving."

County staff hoped they would be able to go over the punch list today (Monday) for the new sheriff's offices, but the space is not yet ready. That will take at least another couple weeks.

"We probably want to make sure the masons are done with that part, close the front entrance and get the doors on before we move the sheriff's department into that side," Homman said.

The presentation can be viewed online at, by clicking on the commissioners page and the meeting videos link.

Narrating the presentation, Homman spoke about the various areas of the facility:

—When sheriff's officers check in evidence, they will place it into an evidence locker. Once they twist the handle on the door it locks and they can no longer get back into it. The evidence technician will be the one to remove it in a room on the other side and do whatever work needs to be done.

—The hub of the new jail is the master control room, which controls the entire jail facility. It will be manned at all times.

—A photo showing the inside of a two-person cell inside a "pod" shows a reflective tinting on the windows. This prevents inmates from seeing what is going on in the hallway or control room. "When they look at the window all they will see is a mirror," Homman said. "That's intentional."

—The jail features a "maintenance chase," or hallway that runs behind the cells. It's an area for plumbers and electricians to do needed work without having to enter into the secure part of the jail.

Jail personnel will no longer have to worry about keeping service people secure or anyone getting hurt or "accidentally leaving a tool in there or having an inmate pick it up when they're not looking," Homman said.

—On the second floor of the existing courthouse, demolition has begun everywhere except in the old jail where inmates still are being housed. The areas where district court, community corrections, the judges' chambers, court services and the large and small courtroom have been stripped.

Commissioner Craig Chamberlin asked if the windows in the large courtroom used by Eighth Judicial District Judge would be taken out and replaced with more energy efficient windows.

Homman said he believed they would be replaced with smaller windows, especially since the ceiling will be lowered.

—In the basement area, remediation workers have pulled up tile and plan to pull down the ceilings. A barrier is in place to keep the dust down, especially since 911 Communications (dispatch) is still located in the basement so they can get to the meeting rooms and elevator.

—On the main floor, the Register of Deeds, Treasurer's and County Clerk's office are "desolate" with everything moved out. Thursday morning, workers doing demolition on the second floor cut a water line and "water was running through the ceiling and flooding the floor," Homman said.

—Once the sheriff's office moves into its new quarters, the administration department temporarily will utilize some of the space in the sheriff's office, while administration offices are demolished and renovated. Then, 911 Communications will temporarily move into the renovated former sheriff's department garage space.

"At that point, the courthouse will be completely empty —with the exception of the jail inmates — and as soon as the jail is done we'll move them out," Homman said.

The other county building project currently underway is at Sterl Hall where an addition is under construction, which includes more bathrooms with showers, creating a "working emergency shelter."

Homman said the Sterl Hall addition is about 99 percent done, waiting on toilets, fixtures and stall partitions. Outside a sidewalk will be poured on the north side of the building to connect the east and west sides of Sterl Hall so people won't have to walk in the grass and dirt.

"Once that's done it can be opened up and district court can start using it," he said.

Action items

—The commission approved a bid of $58,763.08 for bridge materials to replace tubes and other structures at 1936 Golf Rd, 2427 Fair Road and 1468 Barn Rd. Bids were awarded to Metal Culverts Inc., Welborn Sales and Odin Enterprises.

—Commissioners approved the five-year solid waste plan, required by the state. Environmental Services Director Derek Norrick said every Kansas county is required to submit a plan, which is sent to the Bureau of Waste Management.

Contact Kathy Hageman at

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