Leaders in California’s Gold Country can now boast that they have gold standard of courthouses.
The new two-story Calaveras County courthouse is located in downtown San Andreas and is adjacent to the county’s soon-to-be completed new justice facility. Equipped with four courtrooms, the facility brings all services under one roof and replaces the previous overcrowded and functionally inadequate space in the county’s Legal Building and adjacent modular facility.
The courthouse will greatly improve the public’s access to justice through such features as a self-help center, a dedicated jury assembly room and improved access to clerk services. The site also includes ample parking space for court visitors and staff.
“Probably inevitable that we will see an increase in crime and this will allow us to keep up with any increase in criminal violence as well as civil, small claims, family law because those are all population driven as well,” stated Calaveras Court Executive Officer Hugh Swift. According to Capitol Public Radio, Swift further believes that the addition of a new $60 jail facility next door will lower the county’s prisoner transportation costs.
The $45 million project was completed by McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., the nation’s 8th largest domestic general contractor and largest general contractor in the state.
“We are thrilled to celebrate the final outcome after a successful construction process, which is a modern, state-of-the-art courthouse facility. The entire project team came together seamlessly, resulting in excellent communication and the ability to anticipate and address challenges with minimal impact,” said Matt Wade, McCarthy’s project director. “The new courthouse will enhance court access and services for Calaveras County residents, while at the same time providing a safer and more secure court infrastructure. We are pleased to have built a facility that will contribute substantially to the California Judicial Council’s goal of an improved court system statewide.”
The design of the courthouse compliments the building’s natural setting and minimizes its impact on the surrounding oak woodlands. It features an expansive plaza, two-story glass lobby and great hall, and natural light throughout the building. The four courtrooms are located on the second floor.
The facility’s sustainability features, such as a solar array on the roof and a green rooftop terrace, qualify the project for a LEED Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
“This has been a long time coming. The courts used to be part of the county and now they are a part of the state, but this is a county court. When I consider how we have gone, walking in the hallway next to inmates, Judge Mewhinney is right. This is a much safer facility,” Calaveras County Board of Supervisors Chairman Merita Callaway said in an interview with My Mother Lode. “It is exciting, and in 50 years we will still be proud of this building.”
The court officially opened for business on November 25.