Courthouse improvements on deck for Madison County

Since 1875, the Madison County Courthouse has served as a home to county offices and both the district and justice courts.

Though the courthouse has been somewhat modernized to keep up with the times, the commissioners have a few issues to address, like accessibility and courtroom safety.

Commissioner Dave Schulz explained that the county has a legal obligation to put an elevator in the courthouse because of a claim from a Madison County resident. The courtroom is located on the second floor of the building and is not accessible by everyone.

“It’s a serious issue,” Schulz said. “But we are taking a positive approach and moving forward.”

Other than an elevator, the tentative plans for the courthouse include shuffling around offices and putting a restroom on the main floor.

The commissioners are currently working with an architecture firm to conceptualize the project.

“They need to talk with the state preservation office,” Schulz said. “They need to talk with all the (county) offices that will be impacted.”

“We had an estimate a few years ago, just conceptually,” commissioner Jim Hart added. “That was $650,000, but now I bet you it’ll be more than $1 million.”

The background

In 2008, the commissioners established a courthouse advisory committee to outline priorities for structural changes and determine where the county offices should be located in the future, Hart said.

The committee identified priorities, which ultimately led to the construction of the newly completed administrative building, located across the street from the historic courthouse in Virginia City. With that project finished, the new focus is on the historic courthouse.

Schulz said updating the courthouse is important for a few reasons.

“Our court and court related offices are busier than ever,” he said. “Consequently, our obligation for access isn’t going to go away.”

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