County begins search for temporary court facilities

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By Jenny Hartley

County Council talked about rebuilding the Lancaster County Courthouse at a special meeting on Tuesday.

Council members also talked about short-term solutions, such as where to put the 10 or so solicitor's office, clerk of court and public defender office employees displaced by the fire.

General sessions court, which had been scheduled to begin Monday, went on Tuesday morning at the Municipal Justice Center courtroom.

Court officials worked in temporary offices in the basement of the Lancaster County Administration Building.

Council made plans Tuesday to consult with the city of Lancaster about using the former Springs Global engineering building on 15th Street as a temporary courthouse and offices.

According to law, the county's courthouse must be located within the county seat, so the temporary location must be in the Lancaster city limits, as the old Springs property is.

The Springs building is 90,000 square feet.

"It's a very large building and very conducive to what we need," Council Chairman Rudy Carter said.

John Jervey, an official from the S.C. Association of Counties, viewed the burned courthouse Monday.

County Administrator Steve Willis told council that Jervey would begin the insurance claims process. The courthouse is insured at $1.8 million, and its contents at $91,000.

Council votes to install security system

Council also voted Tuesday to begin installing security systems at other county buildings. The courthouse had no security alarm, smoke detectors or sprinkler system.

"This is sort of like closing the barn door after the horse is out," Willis said.

Funding for some of the emergency repairs, cleanup and security measures will come from the $110,000 council approved earlier this year to spend on replacing windows at the courthouse.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1151