May 21, 2019

Grant funds Scott Court improvement projects

Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Scott Town Justice Russell Phelps talks Friday about the extent of the upcoming renovations to the Scott Town Hall. Phelps applied for and was awarded a $29,000 grant to fund the work that will improve the appearance and security at the court.

A $29,000 grant to fund renovations to the Scott town courthouse will make it a more welcoming and secure space, the town justice said. “We don’t want to change the history (of the building), we just want to update it,” said Justice Russell Phelps. The building is at least a century old.

The court, located in the Town Hall at 6689 Route 41, received $29,177 from the Justice Court Assistance Program to do the renovations, according to a news release from Phelps. It was one of 308 courts to receive assistance.

Phelps said he had to submit an application to the state with a detailed proposal requesting up to $30,000. The funding could be used for “any purpose having as its end enhancement of the Justice Courts’ ability to provide suitable and sufficient services to their respective communities,” according to the state court’s website. This included expansion or improvement of court facilities.

Phelps said the renovations will create a more formal courtroom, including an area for a jury.

Currently, Phelps and other court officials sit at a table in the courtroom. Plastic chairs are then set up for other people to sit at and court officers sit off to the side of the room with any defendants in police custody.

The Scott Town Hall will retain its historic character like these wrought iron awning brackets shown here Friday. The town is beginning a project to renovate the town court facilities.

Part of the renovations would create a bench for the court officials to sit at and a seating area for jurors. There would also be offices created on the second floor. one for the judge, the other for attorneys to meet with their clients.

“Right now, they have to go outside if they want to talk to their client, “Phelps said.

Scott Town Court is in session twice a month — the first and third Tuesdays. However, Phelps said the third Tuesday is when the district attorney’s office attorneys are present and they see the most cases. He said he sees about 22 cases on that day.

The renovations would also pay for a security system after Phelps said the offices were broken into last summer.

Phelps noted the interior will be gutted so things like insulation could be installed.

“Behind the paneling there’s absolutely no insulation, so we get bees and all types of stuff,” he said.

The designs, which Phelps drew up himself, are inspired by the look of Marathon Town Court.

“I went down there and talked extensively with (Eddie) Daugherty,” he said. “They have a great setup. It’s beautiful.”

CSC Construction of Truxton will begin work March 1 and is expected to be finished in four weeks, Phelps said. Beard Electric, LLC will install the security system.

While work is going on, the court and codes officer will be moved to either the Scott United Methodist Church or the town barn at 438 Ripley Hill Road.

Phelps said he plans to continue applying for funding each year. This is the first time he’s applied for the grant.

Other updates he’d like:
• New signage.
• Bathrooms accessible to people with disabilities.
• Air conditioning.
• New roof.

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