Courthouse offices find new spaces

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By Molly Haines

Questions are circulating about what will happen to offices located at the county’s 156-year old courthouse after the Owen County Circuit Clerk’s Office moved into its new $11 million facility last week.
The building will still be home to the offices of the Owen County judge-executive, the Owen County attorney and the Owen County property valuation administrator.
Owen County Judge-executive Carolyn Keith said all of those offices will remain at the courthouse, with only a few changes.
Keith said her office and staff will move into what is currently the PVA’s office and the PVA’s office will occupy the old circuit clerk’s office.
One upstairs office will be rented to an employee of Northern Kentucky Area Development District and the old law library will be a conference and file room for Owen County Attorney Josh Smith.
Keith said the circuit clerk’s new location has posed somewhat of a problem for Smith.
“(Smith) can’t just walk to retrieve files from the circuit clerk’s office now, so there will be a need for (Smith) to maintain more paperwork.”
The judge’s chambers will be occupied by the Owen County Clerk’s Office.
The clerk’s office received a grant for $17,280 from the Kentucky Department for Libraries to clean, organize and inventory bound permanent books.
Some of the documents, which have been stored in the basement of the Owen County Courthouse, predate the founding of modern Owen County.
Keith said once the project is completed, the historic records will be placed inside what was the judge’s chambers and the public will be able to view and make copies of them.
The courtroom itself will continue to be used as the Owen County Fiscal Court’s meeting area.
“The sheriff’s office was offered an area in the courthouse at one time, but they declined,” Keith said. “It wouldn’t be conducive with state police in and out so much. (The sheriff’s) building was remodeled in 2009.”
Keith said the key issue with the circuit clerk’s office move is the loss of rent from the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts.
“The circuit clerk’s office occupied 68 percent of the courthouse,” Keith said. “We received $89,000 from (AOC) a year for rent and they would pay 68 percent of the cost of repairs for air conditioning and things like that. Now all repairs will be paid 100 percent by the county.”
Keith said many people have ask when the judge-executive’s office will be moving and wants everyone to understand that the only offices that can occupy the new judicial center are those of the AOC.
“Only offices like the circuit clerks and circuit and district judges can occupy the judicial center,” Keith said.
The cost of the judicial center will be covered by state tax dollars and won’t affect the local budget.