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Juvenile court construction on track for January opening

June 17th, 2013 9:21 pm by Gary B. Gray

Juvenile court construction on track for January opening

The former Johnson City Seniors’ Center is well on the way to becoming home to the city’s Juvenile Court. Over the past few months, Kingsport’s Armstrong Construction has been making progress at the site. (Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press)


The transformation of Johnson City’s former Seniors Center into its new and comparatively expansive Juvenile Court is now about 50 percent complete, and construction and renovations are keeping pace with the estimated completion date near the first of the year.


A building permit was issued March 8, and Kingsport’s Armstrong Construction has been at the 607 E. Myrtle Ave. location since that time tearing out old ceilings, walls, HVAC duct work and other portions of what will be reshaped into a 10,000-square-foot structure, nearly doubling the size of the current court down the road at 102 W. Myrtle Ave.


“There have still been a lot of people come by asking what happened to the center,” Orville Hensley, Armstrong’s superintendent, said Monday. “(Juvenile Court Judge Sharon M. Green) has wanted to come by and look at it, but I’ve asked that she wait until sometime after July 4th when we have most of the sheetrock up.”  


Hensley said workers no longer are in “demolition mode.” Crews are now installing new masonry walls that is covering new electrical and plumbing work. The company has shored up much of the front of the building in preparation of enlarging the space to be used as a new foyer and waiting area.


The city will be removing the existing covered driveway in front of the building. Armstrong will then enlarge the space, which will be used as a new foyer and waiting area. The city also will be repaving the parking lot.


“We just got our structural steel in this morning, and it will be used to support the areas where walls have been removed,” he said. “Next we’ll be finishing all our block work. Once that’s done it will be painted, including the areas getting sheetrock. The city will be demolishing the sidewalks and new ones will go in. A subcontractor also will be putting on a new roof sometime before all the sheetrock is installed.”


The city entered into a roughly $1.1 million contact with the company to renovate the former Seniors Center using a design by Thomas Weems Architects. 


Green’s current court is only 13 feet wide. She has said this cramped space has caused tensions to rise in a setting meant for resolution, but the renovation will include a courtroom that will be about 25 to 35 feet wide.


Green said court is held five days a week. And in a year, about 1,700 children will come through and 2,775 cases will be disposed of. She said the new site is an appropriate location for the court because of its proximity to local police zones, and it allows for the expansion of the courtroom facilities, including attorney conference rooms and administrative and other offices.


Bid documents for the renovation show the big-ticket items include roof replacement and new heating and cooling systems. The new courtroom will be carved out of the old gymnasium, increasing elbow room dramatically. The new court also will include a conference room used for child and family team meetings.


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