BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Workers are moving into the last few months of construction on Bay County’s new Juvenile Justice Courthouse. The project has been underway for about a year.
“It’s starting to look like a building now, starting to look like a courthouse, we have the roof, we’re starting to enclose it so we’re going into the finishing side,” Bay County Chief Infrastructure Officer Keith Bryant said.
It’s being built on the same campus as the historic main county courthouse. Bay County officials made the decision years ago to build a new juvenile courthouse to replace the facility on East 11th Street.
That one was supposed to go to the federal government to become a new federal courthouse for our area but that deal fell through about the same time Hurricane Michael hit.
“After the GSA contract, when that didn’t go through, we decided to move the campus to a one-campus setup and this is the improvement that we felt was best for the community and this was the direction we went,” Bryant said.
The county decided against repairing hurricane damages and put the facility up for sale. They cleared the way for a $12 million juvenile justice complex. Inside the building will be two courtrooms.
“We really haven’t had a judicial system for the teens to go to, I myself actually went through teen court when I was younger, about 13 years old and it definitely helped me out a lot so I think it’s very important we’re getting another judicial system set in place for sure for our younger youth,” said Bay County resident Joseph Abramo.
Once completed in March, the main entrance of the courthouse will be on the west side of the complex.
“We had a courthouse in 11th street that had to have bailiffs that had to have an entryway, the original courthouse that had bailiffs at the entryway, now we have one campus, one set of bailiffs for that entry point so it’s also it’s an improvement in efficiency for the court system,” Bryant said.
The original courthouse is undergoing remodeling work. Crews are updating the electrical system, installing new flooring, and making office upgrades.