ANDERSON, Tex. (KBTX) - Tuesday morning Grimes County commissioners and elected leaders broke ground on a new $10.4 million justice center to be built next to the sheriff's office in Anderson.
It took more than a decade of discussions and planning, but the new facility will finally be built. The new center will house a number of county offices, staff for the District Attorney's office, county human resources, a commissioner's courtroom and as well as a new district courtroom.
"The nice thing about it is that we have the money in the bank. We don't have to borrow any money. We don't have to raise taxes," said Grimes County Judge Joe Fauth. "We don't have to sell bonds. It's pretty much a done deal. We're going to stay within our budget," he said.
The judge and other county leaders said residents in the county will also benefit beyond no new taxes. Over at the district attorney's office, crime victims won't have to wait in a converted storage shed to speak with investigators. The inside contains furniture, a TV and a living-room type atmosphere for victims. The other half of the space is an office for Grimes County Crime Victim Coordinator Brenda Williams.
"Kind of hard trying to get everybody in the same space and not to keep them feeling comfortable so that's where our issues have been. We did not have adequate room," she said.
“It will give us adequate space for our victims to be close to the courtroom. Not have to worry about security because security will be right there in the courtroom area," said Williams.
"When we're preparing for trial there's a large amount of documents and photographs and those kinds of things and we've never had a place other than honestly the floor of an office to get together and have a war room," said Grimes County District Attorney Andria Bender.
Bender said currently there's not enough space for her 11 employees to gather at the same time.
"We're going to have that ability," she said.
Grimes County Sheriff Don Sowell said the new building will have a secure tunnel so inmates can be walked over for court, rather than driven to the main courthouse downtown.
"In today's time we have to be more and more secure in our public events especially courtroom and I think the public is excited about this and it's just a good day for Grimes County," said Sowell.
The new facility will be more than 32,000-square-feet. Construction is expected to take a full year to complete. Brenham-based Collier Construction will be in charge of the project.