Demolition begins, paving way for new $13 million Warren County court building

Demolition crews are already working to prepare the site for the new Warren County Court building on Justice Drive, southeast of downtown Lebanon.

After years of discussion, Warren County commissioners approved moving forward with the new $13 million Warren County Court facility to replace the current facility, which was attached to the former Sheriff’s Office and Jail facility. County officials said the new building will be paid for in cash and won’t be bonded.

Facilities have been under evaluation for some time as county officials determined what to do with the old jail that was built in 1996 and is attached to the building where the County Court is located. Also attached to the County Court building is the former sheriff’s office and previous jail, built in 1976.

Since the opening of the new sheriff’s office and jail in the fall of 2021, the County Court has expanded into the former sheriff’s office temporarily. The county court is similar to a municipal court and hears cases in portions of the county that are not served by the Franklin, Lebanon and Mason municipal courts.

Trevor Hearn, the facilities management director said demolition crews have already torn down the former SWAT garage at the site and are now demolishing the rear of the former jail.

“This project has been a long time wait because we had to get the addition to the Probate/Juvenile Court building done first and then construct the new sheriff’s office and jail,” Hearn said. “We have another three to four weeks of demolition before we can move utility lines and do other site preparation work.”

The new county court building will help solve space issues the court was experiencing as well as bringing the technology, security and life safety aspects of the building up to modern standards, he said.

Hearn said the new one-story, 28,000 square-foot building will feature two new courtrooms, a hearing room, and space for the Probation Department and County Court Clerk and other personnel.

“We hope to begin actual construction in late June with completion in late summer 2025,” Hearn said. “We want to have little disruption with court operations as we accomplish our goal.”

Warren County Court Judge Gary Loxley said he’s happy to have the extra space at the court since the Sheriff’s Office and Jail moved to its new location.

Loxley, who is starting his 12th year on the bench, said the current building is not ideal because it wasn’t constructed as a courthouse.

“We want a structure that will give an aura of going into a courthouse,” he said.

“We’re excited to have a building built from the ground up,” Loxley said. “It’s great to see it under construction and we’re going to continue to be patient.”

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