Letter to the editor: Setting the record straight on the new courthouse


The power of the pen and putting it on paper. Hummm? Those who write, may say anything without knowing the facts.  In this case, it is Ruthie Brown in her column on July 28, who wants to bash Alamosa County regarding the new Justice Center. Ruthie has not spoken to me about it; instead I read her snippets of sourness in the newspaper.

First:  The building does not have showers for the prisoners. Ruthie wrote, “…one for the prisoners and one for the judges.” There are showers for the judges and staff to use. However, there is a safety reason for a shower. It is to accommodate the maintenance staff if there were a chemical burn or reaction to the cleaning supplies. Showers are also part of the LEED certification of a “green” building. It is not required, but encouraged so that employees will exercise and maintain healthy activities during their breaks and lunch hours.   

Second: The building is not “SO-O-O fancy”. It is a large building covering 45,000 square feet.  The furniture is paid for by the State of CO. The county is responsible for providing the space. The old courthouse is some 80+ years old.  Anything is an improvement over what the court and probation staff are currently working in. The building will meet the needs of the 12th Judicial District, we hope, for decades to come. 

Third:  The “fanciness” did not cost extra money. In fact, the building has a simple yet tasteful interior. It is nothing like the metro area courthouses or even Pueblo, if you have been through other buildings. Our courthouse is being built within the budget the Commissioners set and paid with the one-cent sales tax the voters gave us.

Fourth: The building is not for “folks ….after committing a crime”. Many favorable and happy events are conducted at a courthouse. To name a few: adoptions, marriages, land exchanges, etc. The building is for all of us for civil and criminal proceedings. And because of technology, attorneys will now be able to argue cases before the Court of Appeals without leaving Alamosa. 

Fifth: The idea of asking the public for funds to help with the landscaping was my idea. The Board of Commissioners agreed to it because there were people who wanted to be a part of this project. This is a celebratory time for Alamosa County and the 12th Judicial District. There are individuals and companies who have given to the fund because they believe in the goodness of our community and the meaning of justice. The original architectural bid for the landscaping was in the neighborhood of $400,000.  The Commissioners scaled that back. The $400,000 was the money in the project the county did not have. The commissioners would not have scrapped the landscaping.  We have some funds budgeted from the one-cent sales tax, a grant from the Underfunded Courthouse Funds through the State of CO, and now, funds from caring individuals and companies who have written a check as part of the celebration.

Sixth: There will be a request for proposal with the local landscaping companies and greenhouses for plants, trees, and shrubs we are planting. I hope, Ruthie, you will want to be a part of that. 

There will be a community open house and ribbon cutting. Keeping our fingers crossed, it is set for October 19.

Most importantly, I want to thank the voters for passing the one-cent sales tax. They recognized the need to replace a courthouse busting at the seams and a detention center that was overcrowded and in great need of repair.    

Instead of Ruthie writing, “….trying to wrap my brain around what I have heard from construction workers”, you should call the people who are really in the know.  I’m happy to discuss this project with Ruthie or any other citizen.  Let’s all take pride and be thankful we have a thriving community. 

Respectfully,

Gigi Dennis

Alamosa County Administrator

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