A project that’s been in the works for more than two years is nearing completion. The Town of Parker’s Magistrate Court moved into their new home at 1112 Arizona Avenue on Wednesday, Dec. 16.

The move takes the Magistrate Court out of Town Hall and puts it in a home of its own.

The Magistrate Court will occupy one-half of the building, which had been used for retail shops and offices. The new courthouse includes a reception area with key card access to the courtroom and reception office area, a bullet-proof reception window, a public and private bathroom, file room, court clerk office, jury room, judge’s office, break room, courtroom with judge’s bench, jury seating, and a prisoner holding area.

“It fulfills the vision of what they were looking for,” Magistrate Larry Kubacki said. “I think we have something the entire town will be extremely proud of.”

The town council approved a bid of $245,000 from River Impact Construction of Parker for the project on July 21. Public Works Director Steve Ziegler said the Town budgeted $160,000 for the project in fiscal year 2020-21, and there was still $85,000 left over from the amount budgeted for the project in FY 2019-20.

Kubacki and Ziegler said the general contractor, Mike Sleppy, did a great job at a price the Town could afford.

“I’m thankful Mike Sleppy was able to step up and make a bid we could afford,” Ziegler said. “I think everyone will be happy with this.”

“We take the expenditure of people’s tax money seriously,” Kubacki said.

The Town purchased the building at 1112 Arizona Avenue in March 2018 at a cost of $170,000. The plan is to move the Magistrate Court and offices for the Parker Community/Senior Center into the building. It was best known as the office of the Motor Vehicle Division until MVD moved to their new office on Mutuhar Drive. Attorney Fred Welch also had an office in the building. The owner the town purchased the property from, Dr. Clark Kim, had an acupuncture practice and herbs business in the building.

Town Manager Lori Wedemeyer said at the time this would put the Magistrate Court close to other justice facilities in Parker, including the Parker Justice Court, the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office and Jail, and the La Paz County Superior Court.

The Town had twice rejected bids on the Magistrate Court project as being too high. In July 2019, five bids were rejected. They ranged from $356,000 to $458,000. In January 2020, they rejected a bid of $295,000 from Straight Arrow Contracting LLC of Tolleson, Ariz.

In addition to the new court facilities, the project included a new roof, redesigned front façade, and new air-conditioning units. Improvements will be made to the sidewalk and parking areas to make them complaint with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The firm of Spray Systems was hired early in 2019 to remove asbestos and lead paint from the building prior to remodeling. The cost of $13,000 was paid by a grant from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. The firm of Seabury Fritz was hired to do the architectural work at a cost of $24,700.

The Town applied for and received a grant from the Arizona Administrative Office of the Courts for $39,322 for security equipment mandated by the state for all the courts in the state. The AOC is part of the Arizona Supreme Court.

The need for this equipment was stated in Administrative Order 2017-15 in 2017, which was prompted by a fatal shooting at the Navajo County Superior Court on June 28, 2016 following a custody hearing.

The order, which was signed by Arizona Chief Justice Scott Bales, said all courts in the state would need to adopt and implement all the standards and procedures set down in the order. The order went into effect July 1, 2017, and state courts had three years to come into full compliance.

Wedemeyer was asked who would be providing security for the Magistrate Court as La Paz County has signed a contract with a private firm to provide security at the Justice Courts. She replied there had been no discussions on the subject as of Dec. 18, but added it was something they needed to look into.

Ziegler said signs will be placed on the Magistrate Court this week. He and Wedemeyer said they hope to have some sort of dedication ceremony and ribbon-cutting in the near future.

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