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Two finalists chosen for new justice center’s construction and design

by Jay Forness ~ Assistant Editor

The process for a new justice center continues to move forward, with the Cape Girardeau County commissioners choosing the top two design-build teams for the project.

The first team consists of River City Construction, which has three locations including one in Benton, IL, and the architectural firm HOK in St. Louis. The second team includes Penzel Construction Inc. of Jackson and the architectural firm Treanor HL, which has a location in Kansas City.

The county received five bids for the design-build position, including Kiefner Bros. Inc. in Cape Girardeau with Chiodini Architects, Wright Construction Services in St. Peters with HMN Architects Inc. and Robinson Construction Company in Perryville.

The two top teams will put together a partial design of the center and projected costs. They will present their plans to the commissioners, who will then decide what plan will be used.

After the commission chooses which team will be the design-builders and finalizes the plans for the justice center, construction could begin as early as this fall.

The new justice center will sit between the current courthouse and the county jail. The current courthouse buildings were constructed in 1854 and 1908 and no longer provide sufficient space for the court system.

Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy said earlier this year that they are taking their time to get this right, as the new courthouse needs to fit the county’s needs for the next 150 years.

In other action:

• The county commissioners approved an ordinace establishing a surcharge in the amount of $4 for each criminal case to provide operating expenses for domestic violence shelters.

The county previously had a surcharge of $2 that went to the Safe House for Women, but state law now allows counties to charge up to $4 for this use.

Jessica Hill, the executive director of the Safe House for Women, said the surcharge has generated about $16,000 a year.

Hill added that doubling the surcharge will help the organization with their increased operating costs. The Safe House has started construction on a larger shelter, which is scheduled to open next spring.

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