USDA, local officials dedicate $3.7M municipal courthouse
Drive-through windows will handle minor court fees and auto titles.
By D.A. WILKINSON
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- No more fleas, floods or potentially dangerous situations.
Officials dedicated the new Columbiana County Municipal Court building Friday at 38832 Saltwell Road, just north of the village.
Judge Carol A. Robb, the second area court judge, said the opening is tentatively set for Sept. 12.
The building houses two courtrooms as well as the automobile title department of the county clerk of courts office.
The $3.7 million building was constructed at no cost to the taxpayers and on budget.
"This is free except for the utilities," said Judge Mark Frost.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided $3.1 million for the building, which will be repaid over 30 years. The rest came from court fees.
In his remarks, Judge Frost recounted the flea infestations, leaky roofs and other problems that plagued the old court system.
The new building replaces courts in Lisbon, Salem and East Palestine. By state law, East Liverpool Municipal Court will continue to handle cases in the southern portion of the county.
The county will save $2,000 a month in rent for the courts in Salem and East Palestine as well as the cost of transporting prisoners long distances to and from hearings. The Lisbon court is in a building that also houses the county board of elections.
The old courts are very small. Lawyers often had to meet on the sidewalk with clients in jail jumpsuits under the eye of a sheriff's deputy.
The new facility has ample room and state-of-the-art security measures.
Judge Frost and others say this may be the first time the county has had two specific courthouses.
John Miller, a USDA spokesman, said the facility is the first municipal court in the state to have a drive-through window for minor court fees. Miller also said it's the second in the state to have drive-through facilities for auto titles.
Former Judge Robert C. Roberts said the idea for the court began 10 years ago in a discussion among members of the Columbiana County Bar Association.