Flood Damaged First Floor of the Linn County Courthouse Will Open Monday

By Trish Mehaffey, Reporter

A courtroom with video equipment will be used for in-custody initial appearances on the first level of the Linn County Courthouse on Friday, May 11, 2012, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Renovation of the first floor of the courthouse is almost complete. Eight courtrooms are located on the first level as well as judges' chambers and other offices. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Aaron Hepker

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — After four long years the first floor of the Linn County Courthouse which was flooded in 2008 will be open for court proceedings Monday.

The eight new courtrooms, conference rooms and judges’ chambers were getting the final cleanup Friday before the public opening of the first phase of the $6.3 million flood renovation project. There will be two jury courtrooms for associate District Court proceedings and six courtrooms for non-jury proceedings.

The flood impacted the entire courthouse as it closed and temporarily moved to Kirkwood College’s Continuing Education Center for about three months. There’s a dedication regarding the flood at the entrance on the first floor made out of terrazzo tile with pieces of the old flooring that reads “Dedication in honor of those Linn County citizens whose lives were changed forever by the flood of 2008.”

The clerk’s office and all the court files were previously on the first floor but more than $5 million was spent on restoring flood damaged files, so moving the clerk’s office up to the main lobby was a priority, Carroll Edmondson, court administrator said earlier this year.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Mitchell Turner said it’s great to see the first floor renovation completed.

“The additional courtrooms and staff area, equipped with current technology, are a very welcome and needed addition to the Linn County Courthouse,” Turner said. “The dedication of these new facilities to those citizens whose lives were forever changed by the flood of 2008 is both fitting and appropriate. Hopefully, it will become an example of the old adage that good things come to those who wait. Thank you to everyone who has worked so long and so hard to make this a reality.”

Kellee Cortez, assistant District Court administrator who handles the trial scheduling, said the two larger jury courtrooms could also be used for felony cases if needed which could help her avoid last minute changes to the schedule.

The rest of the courthouse renovation will be completed next year. The county attorney’s office is relocating to the third floor and the traffic and small claims divisions that moved to Westdale Mall will move back in June. They will temporarily be housed on the first floor but will move to the main lobby when the other renovations are completed.

Other renovations include a walkway from the jail to the courthouse on the third floor and some additional jury deliberation rooms on the fourth floor.

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