Judicial Center opens in Crawford County

Meadville community members mark history with the dedication of Crawford County's new Judicial Center.  

Some judges were moved to tears at today's dedication.  They say Crawford County needed this updated facility in its corner.  The last time the Crawford County court system saw a major change, the President Judge Anothy Vardaro wasn't even one year old.  More than 60 years later,  he says he's honored to be a part of history.

Vardaro says, "People generally don't want to come to a judicial center because that means there's some conflict and they need to feel as comfortable as possible and need to make sure that they know they're coming to a building where they're going to be safe." 

Crawford County Commissioner, Francis Weiderspahn, says, "There was certainly some times that weren't real fun and everybody didn't always get along but everybody was committed to work together to see this through and we're fortunate to have what he have." 

Security cameras are just one of the many features to add to the safety of the people visiting the center.

District Board Administrator, Heidi Shiderly says, "The building is designed with a public corridor area in the front and a private corridor in the back so that defendants who would come through can be put through the private and the public won't have to see them or interact with them." 

That's just one of the many changes.  Judges tell us there will also be added meeting rooms and features throughout the building. They say the community leans on the local court systems, and the new center will reinstate that feeling once again, but there is still some work to be done.

Organizers say making more space for parking is one of the top priorities.  Right now, the facility is open to the public for tours, but not everyone is in support of the new judicial center.  

The county's population has been shrinking and that means the tax base is shrinking along with it.  Some people say the new judicial center is a nice feature to the community, but not a necessity.

State Representative Brad Roae has expressed his concerns with the facility.  He says tax payers want to see their money being spent more wisely.  "I think sometimes government has a hard time distinguishing between has to have and nice to have, and I think the new judicial center, it's really nice but it's just too expensive for the tax payers." 

Roae says spending tax payer dollars on new facilities has left a track of unused buildings across the county.

 

--Jackie Roberts


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