The judges must decide whether to establish a new court in an existing building or construct a new one.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- The three Columbiana County area courts probably will remain open until a centralized location can be found for a reorganized court system, says a newly elected judge.
Judge Mark Frost, who has served 13 years as Eastern Area Court judge in East Palestine, defeated Judge K. Bret Apple in Tuesday's general election for county municipal court.
Judge Apple, who sits on the bench at Southwest Area Court in Lisbon, lost by more than 2,300 votes, with his opponent garnering about 56 percent of the ballots cast.
Judge Frost, a Republican, and Judge Apple, a Democrat, were vying for the Jan. 1 term of the newly created county municipal court, which will begin operating in January.
Also won: Judge Robert C. Roberts, now judge of the Northwest Area Court, ran unopposed for the Jan. 2 term on the new municipal court.
Judge Frost, 53, said after his victory Tuesday that he and Judge Roberts must confer about the organization of the new court, which eventually will entail centralizing the court system in or near Lisbon.
Until that happens, the judges are likely to keep open the three courtrooms in East Palestine, Lisbon and Salem, Judge Frost said.
That would mean that judges Frost and Roberts would share duties at Southwest Court.
Once a new, centralized courtroom is chosen, the area courts will be closed.
The new court could be in a renovated existing building, or a new structure could be built.
"It's beginning to look like we can build more cheaply than we can remodel," Judge Frost said.
He added, however, that he wants input from area officials and residents on the matter.
Reorganizing: Under the reorganization, the six-year municipal court judgeships will be full-time posts paying about $97,000 annually.
The area court judgeships are part-time posts, which pay about $58,000 annually.
The county is converting to a municipal court system because officials think it will better enable the courts to handle an increasing caseload.