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Expansion for Twin Falls County Courthouse breaks ground

Posted at 5:18 PM, Oct 23, 2023

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — As Twin Falls County continues to grow - its Courthouse is now growing alongside it.

On Monday, the county broke ground on what will become a 70,000 square foot addition to the building.

Central to the city of Twin Falls, the County Courthouse has been on Shoshone Street across from City Park since 1912.

Twin Falls resident Katherine Leija summed up the court’s significance.

"It does tie the community together, because everyone comes into it, whether they're just visiting, have jury duty, or have to be there," Leija told Idaho News 6.

Now, after decades of growth, the county will upgrade its courts to better accommodate the population.

The expansion was kicked off with a nod to the area's heritage, as a 19th-century road grader pulled by Clydesdales Gus and Willie made a pass with the blade.

In 1967, the county needed more room for courts, and the Judge Theron Ward Judicial Building gave the county’s legal proceedings room to grow, at a time when the population in the county was right around 40,000 people.

Now, with a county population of more than 90,000, the six courtrooms are no longer enough to provide timely legal processing, and more room is needed.

The new 70,000 square foot expansion, along with a remodel of 17,000 square feet of the current judicial building, will add four additional courtrooms, as well as separation between defendants, witnesses and victims.

County Clerk Christine Glascock addressed the crowd during the groundbreaking ceremony and described the current conditions of the judicial building. People waiting for court appearances wait in hallways, and bathroom breaks for juries are timed to avoid traffic jams.

Don Hall is chair of the Twin Falls County Commission. He says the expansion and remodel will have design features to tie it into the historic 1912 courthouse.

“It’s going to be a building, I believe, that the community is going to be proud of,” Hall told Idaho News 6. “It's not going to compete with the iconic facility that we have, but we’re hoping that it compliments it.”

The expansion and remodel – in the neighborhood of $30 million – will be paid for by one-time funds the county set aside at the end of each fiscal year starting in 2016.

The addition of Federal American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funding has tipped the project over the goal.

“There’s no new tax dollars going towards this. These are monies that we’ve received from the federal government along with what we’ve been able to save and scrape to do this project,” Hall said.

Following Monday’s groundbreaking, construction could begin at any time. The county expects the construction to take two-and-a-half years, and the expansion could be open by early 2026.

To make way for the court expansion, the Memorial Garden that had been established in 1993 had to be removed.

RELATED | Four lots of roses are being moved for Twin Falls County Court expansion

At the groundbreaking, Commissioner Brent Reinke described the process of re-homing as many of the memorial rose bushes as possible. In many cases, the people who donated roses were able to come retrieve plants. Other roses were relocated to the Twin Falls County Fairgrounds.

A plaque now stands at the southwest courthouse grounds, commemorating the names of people who donated roses over the course of the memorial garden’s 30-year history.