New Van Buren administration building is officially open

By | June 9, 2018 8:38 am

Last Updated: June 9, 2018 at 8:42 am

Three of the officials whose offices will be housed in the new Van Buren County Administration Building are L-R: Greg Wilson, Van Buren County mayor; Lisa Zavogiannis, district attorney general for the 31st Judicial District; and Sheriff Eddie Carter.

Numerous Van Buren County residents joined local and state officials for the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new justice center/administration building, on June 3, 2018. (Photos by LOU ANN MYERS)

By Hansel Moore, contributor

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, the Van Buren County Administration Building was officially opened for business.

Greg Wilson, county mayor, was surrounded by a variety of Van Buren residents and visiting dignitaries who came to witness the historical dedication of the highly anticipated home for the county offices, during the June 3, 2018, open house. The crowd applauded as the cutting of the ribbon symbolically opened the building for business.

One of the highlights of the ceremonial day was the changeover of the American flag. The flag that was on display in January 2015 had been safeguarded for the purpose of historical significance. The flag was ceremoniously lowered and secured for display within the walls of the new building. A new American flag, which was provided by WoodmenLife, was raised by Sheriff Eddie Carter and is a display of the patriotism of the Van Buren community.

During the past few weeks, offices have been transitioning from the historic Burritt College building, which has been the temporary home of county offices since a fire destroyed the previous administrative building in January 2015.

It was overheard that some of the staff will secretly miss the “communication system” of the Burritt building where offices were engineered with partial walls.

“Actually it was kind of nice and home,” according to one individual, but it seems as if everyone is positively anticipating the new accommodations.

The building itself is a display of professionalism to persons who are visiting Van Buren for the first time. It is one of the first sights seen when entering the county from the north side of Highway 111.

The new building will house the county mayor, sheriff, district attorney general, court, judges’ chambers, and many other county business offices.   There are numerous extras with the design of the workplace floor plans, and one of the most foreseeing, according to Wilson, is “there is room to grow.”

A state-of-the-art detention area can house up to 86 inmates until transferred or released, with an approximated population of 15 state inmates to be detained locally.   With the additional inmate population comes the need for an estimated six to eight correctional officer positons.

The living area of the justice center is bland and basic. The white walls are illuminated by the natural light penetrating through the clear areas of the ceiling. The use of natural lighting is a cost-saving measure for the utilities and is a physical benefit to inmates. There are steel framed tri-bunk beds to provide sleeping areas. Showers are open with a short wall for limited privacy. Technologically advanced control rooms are strategically designed to allow deputies the ability to observe the actions of all inmates simultaneously.

The kitchen area of the detention center provides the ability to prepare hundreds of meals at a time. Being able to cook and distribute a large amount of food is a logistical safety feature for all county residents in the event of a natural disaster.

Just feet from the incarceration area is located the new courtroom.   The modern assembly room will allow justice to be solicited and served with professional delivery. The judge(s) have new chamber areas to which they can recess as needed.

The open house was a way to share with the community the fruits of many months of labor and design.

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