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3 W. Kentucky counties get new courthouses

SMITHLAND — Three far Western Kentucky counties are expected to open new courthouses in the next 18 months, two replacing buildings that have been outgrown and one that burned to the ground.

The new $6.8 million Livingston County Justice Center is expected to open Feb. 2 to replace a facility built in 1845, one of the oldest in the state. The $10.5 million Trigg County Judicial Center is expected to open in June after two years of construction on the site of the demolished old courthouse.

Carlisle County expects to have a new courthouse by summer 2010, replacing a building that burned down in December 2007.

Circuit Judge C.A. "Woody" Woodall III, who will use the Livingston and Trigg buildings, is excited about the prospects.

"They're state-of-the-art facilities, and they'll offer all of our court participants safety and security," Woodall told The Paducah Sun.

Livingston County Judge-Executive Chris Lasher said the new building should last even longer than the one it is replacing.

Livingston County's new two-story red brick building has limestone accents and is topped with a cupola, similar to that on the old courthouse. It gives the county about 29,000 square feet inside. It has separate courtrooms, replacing a historic chamber in the old courthouse.

It's taken 21 months to construct. Weather delays pushed the project between three and four months behind schedule, Lasher said, but he expects it to be ready for circuit court Feb. 4.

Woodall said he looks forward to the conveniences the building will provide.

"We all hate to leave that historic courtroom, but sometimes progress makes you leave behind the past," Woodall said. "We can still be proud of that past."

Trigg County Judge-Executive Stan Humphries said the 40,000-square-foot building will house drug court, family court, district court and circuit court, as well as the combined circuit and district court clerk's office.

"We have just a few days of brickwork left to do, and then it will be entirely closed in," Humphries said.

County offices moved into the former annex, originally the Trigg County Farmer's Bank, located just across the street from the new building.

Two tall towers included in the new design are similar to those from a courthouse that burned in 1920. Some ornate woodwork from the former circuit courtroom will be reinstalled, and the county's Civil War monument will be re-erected on the lawn, Humphries said. A central hallway will eventually include a time capsule.

"I think it will be a monument that will help downtown Cadiz for years to come," Woodall said

Carlisle County Circuit Judge Tim Langford said bid packages for a new building are being developed with excavation work expected to start in February, weather permitting.

"Everybody in state government says we're moving extremely fast, and realistically, having one burn to the ground to having one built and able to move into within 2½ years is not too bad," Langford said.