Franklin County celebrates new judicial center

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CHAMBERSBURG—The Franklin County Commissioners on Wednesday hosted the grand opening of the county’s newest court facility, the Franklin County Judicial Center.

The Commissioners will host a free public open house at the Judicial Center from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20. The community is invited to tour the new facility and learn more about services available to the public.

Built adjacent to the county’s iconic historic courthouse and the Courthouse Annex on Chambersburg’s Memorial Square, the new two-story, 108,113-square foot facility is home to six courtrooms, judges’ chambers and office suites for support staff.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, the Clerk of Courts/Orphans’ Court and the Prothonotary’s office have also relocated to the new building at 14 N. Main St.

The courthouse is part of a $67 million project that includes the new administrative annex on North Second Street and renovations to the courthouse annex.

The plan was approved in 2018.

The project was supported by a $1.5 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant, used to offset costs associated with demolition and site preparation.

The judicial center offers improvements through technological and operational efficiencies, co-location of court operations and advanced security measures to meet the needs of today’s court system. Its design also provides sufficient space for the county’s current needs while allowing for future expansion, if needed.

With the addition of the judicial center, all Franklin County court offices will be co-located into one downtown campus. Consolidating operations will increase accessibility and convenience for the public, court officials and county staff and is expected to reduce expenses by approximately $8 million over 20 years.

“The new judicial center will benefit county residents well into the future, and the improvements in safety, security, efficiency and quality of justice are something all of us can be proud of,” said Dave Keller, Franklin County Commissioner.

“The new judicial center will provide an improved experience for litigants, counsel, court staff and the judiciary on a day-to-day basis,” added President Judge Shawn Meyers. “Compared to existing facilities, the new judicial center not only has courtrooms that can accommodate the needs of the disabled, it also has a significant number of conference rooms and places for counsel to privately confer with clients, which assists in the orderly processing of cases.”

The Judicial Center has been in the making for more than a decade. Franklin County last expanded its court facilities in 1979.

Since then, the county has experienced a 37% population growth and has added a host of judicial positions – including three judges, assistant district attorneys, public defenders and other associated court staff.

The 1979 facility’s inadequate space and layout also threatened to compromise public safety and jeopardize the integrity of the judicial process.

Construction on the Judicial Center, designed by Noelker and Hull Associates Inc. and Silling Architects, began in 2019.

Franklin Advisory oversaw construction management services on the project with Lobar Inc. serving as the general contractor and electrician for the new building. Numerous Franklin County-based or locally owned companies contributed to the project, including Stouffer Mechanical Contractor, Chambersburg, which handled both the plumbing and HVAC system for the facility.

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