Indoor groundbreaking for new courthouse annex

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ROCK ISLAND -- A new replacement for the old Rock Island County courthouse should be finished by the end of next year, with a ceremonial groundbreaking held Friday to mark the beginning of its construction.

"What a beautiful day for Rock Island County. This is the brightest day for Rock Island County that we have seen in years," said Chief Judge Walter Braud.

The $28 million annex will attach to the existing Rock Island County Justice Center and house all but two departments that are currently in the old courthouse next door.

"In November 2018 we will say goodbye to our old 1896 courthouse. She did her best but her time to rest has come. Two thousand of our citizens utilize the services of the old courthouse weekly. They deserved better," said Judge Braud.

Sheriff Gerry Bustos, Building Commission Chairman Dick Fisher, County Board Chairman Ken "Moose" Maranda, several judges, deputies, and courthouse employees were on hand for the groundbreaking. It was held inside the Sheriff's utility garage because of the rain, so officials took a turn at shoveling sand from a tarp.

Commissioner Fisher said the project will cost $28 million and "not a dime over", and said bonds were issued at the directive of the county board.

Judge Braud called the current crop of county board members "courageous" for battling "strong political head winds", and "doing the right thing" by supporting the project.

And said lessons about neglect should be learned from the past.

"That when our county needs money to do the things that are necessary to take care of our buildings, to take care of our people, that we won't hear a constant 'no, no, no,'"Braud said.

The project will use union labor with the job awarded to construction firms Gilbane out of Rhode Island and locally owned Valley Construction.