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Court officials sign final courthouse beam
Beaming judge gets a view
Judge Glade Roper beamed in more ways than one Thursday morning.
Porterville’s presiding judge was one of five people who put their signature on the final large beam that will be put in place on the $90 million South County Justice Center under construction in town.
After the ceremonial signing, Judge Roper and others toured the four story courthouse going up at Olive and Plano, including what will eventually be his office on the third floor.
“I was thrilled,” said Roper after the tour. “It seems to me like everything is coming along really well.”
The courthouse construction is moving along and remains on time and on budget, said Jerry Avalos with Vanir Construction Mangement, Inc., which is overseeing the project.
“We are at about 45 percent, give or take,” said Avalos of how far along the work is on what will be a nine-courtroom facility. “We’re anticipating by the end of November or early December we’ll hit the 50 percent mark.”
That final beam that Roper signed will be put into place at 10 a.m. today. It is the last big piece of steel to go into the massive structure and completes the framing of the building’s centerpiece — the large entry way.
Joining Roper in signing the beam were LaRayne Cleek, court executive officer; Deanna Jasso, court administrative manager; and Leticia Rodriguez and Karen Pintek, court managers at the Porterville courthouse.
Work on the 95,000 square foot structure began in February and is scheduled for completion on July 29, 2013, but Sundt Construction is slated to turn the building over to the state by Sept. 3.
Roper told the workers who gathered for the beam signing that seeing the courthouse built was a longtime dream.
“I tell you, I never believed I would live to see this,” he said, then thanked the workers. “We’re pretty proud of it. We’ve put a lot of time into furniture, furnishings and design. Not only are you building a courthouse, you’re doing a lot for the community.”
The building has certainly risen quickly, and now that the last beam is in place workers are beginning to install the siding that will make work this winter much easier. The chillers and heating units are already in place on the roof and some of the plumbing and electrical has been installed.
Avalos said once the siding is in place, then work will really pick up and so will the number of workers at the site. On Thursday, Bill Shevlin, senior project superintendent, said there were 126 workers at the site. He said that will grow to approximately 260 early next year.
From the roof looking down, Roper pointed to the courtyard area where the 16 clerk windows will be located. Eight of those windows will face outside, allowing people to conduct business at the court, such as paying a fine, without having to go inside and through security.
"I think that’s really a great idea,” he said as two workers placed a small beam above him.
Avalos and Shevlin pointed to the entry way into the courtyard, calling it the centerpiece of the project. It will be open at the top to allow air inside.
Eight of the nine courtrooms will be the same size and seat about 75 people in the audience. The ninth courtroom will be larger — seating for 110 — and be used for high-visibility cases where media may want access and which might draw more people to watch.
Roper clearly enjoyed a look at his office in the northeast corner of the building that has a great view of the mountains.
“This is a once in a lifetime thing for us,” he told the workers of what the facility means to Porterville. “We wanted it to be an icon for the community."