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Lane County Courthouse Needs Repairs

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EUGENE, Ore. — Representatives says the Lane County Courthouse is screaming for a makeover. Lane County commissioners got to see for themselves Tuesday some of the failing functionality and where renovations are needed.

In 1959 it was the cream of the crop, a state of the art facility.

But that was then. Now the space and structure that dictates the flow of prisoners, judges, jurors and more is being called into question.

The tour Lane County commissioners went on featured tight hallways, low ceilings, the threat of asbestos and failing light fixtures.

Trial Court Administrator Elizabeth Rambo says that’s just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to the obstacles that fracture functionality in the courthouse.

“We need electrical capabilities so that we can run scanners and computers. We need a place large enough for when we’re doing those electronic records the public has a place to access those records, and we need the data capabilities to make that happen,” Rambo said.

“These buildings were built before the Internet, and they could use an upgrade,” said West Lane Commissioner Jay Bozievich.

Using a three-part allotment of $175,000 since 2005, some renovations were made, but a retrofit study say’s that’s not quite enough.

“If I recall, it was around $30 million just to do half of it, retrofit half the building, and that was several years ago,” Rambo said.

One glaring issue is the courthouse’s split level entrance, which is just one of many factors that create a complex route for jurors.

“Up an elevator, out of the building, through security, up an elevator, to another elevator (laughs),” Rambo said.

While rare, the court has seen some security problems with moving inmates.

“One deputy, three defendants, and now imagine yourself as either one of my workers down the hallway here or one of my defendants, this is the route you’ll take to the second floor,” said Karsten Rasmussen, Lane County Circuit Presiding Judge.

Director of Facilities Planning David Suchart has his own solutions, but he and county commissioners agree you can only apply bandaids for so long before you have to schedule surgery.

“It’s in a building that doesn’t meet siesmic standards, and eventually we’re gonna have to replace this building,” Bozievich said.

It is state law that the county provide an adequate facility for the district court.

Bozievich admits the county sits on the edge of whether or not it’s meeting that mandate, which is why Tuesday’s meeting took place.

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