By Alan Collins
BESSEMER, AL (WBRC) - After much delay and debate over funding the Jefferson County Bessemer Justice Center is open for business.
Jefferson County workers are still bringing in cabinets and other office supplies in an effort to get the justice center up and running.
"We got the judge moved in," said Jeff Smith, Director of General Services. "We are moving the final portion, the D.A.'s. We started Monday. They are moving boxes today."
The new building is expected to make it easier for taxpayers to do business at the courthouse with the circuit clerk's office on the first floor. The hallways are bigger for convenience. The Jefferson County Presiding Court Judge says improved security is another plus.
"It's much more secure for judges," Judge Teresa Petelos said. "We have secured hallways and access. The prior courthouse was constructed in a time you were not so concerned about security."
The Jefferson County Commission delayed opening the building last year because of money problems. But, commissioners say the justice center will be a plus for the county.
"It's a big boost for the western area," Bobby Humphryes, Jefferson Co. Commissioner said. "I think it will be a big boost for Bessemer. People coming to use the courthouse and everything."
Commission President Bettye Fine Collins said she is pleased with the Justice Center despite her earlier reservations.
"Of course I didn't support spending the money," Collins said. "That's hindsight. The former commission decided to do that and we made the best of it."
Certainly those who work at the courthouse are thankful.
"The air conditioning is wonderful," Petelos said. "It's great."
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