Family court will have to wait a few more days to move into its newly renovated space at the Boyle County Courthouse, and judging by Monday’s caseload, it won’t be a minute too soon.
Workers are putting the finishing touches on the $180,000 project that will allow the increasingly busy court to have its own space after years of shuffling between rooms intended for other courts. On Monday, Judge Bruce Petrie, who presides over family court in Boyle and Mercer counties, was in the district court chambers while lines of people packed the third-floor hallway.
Storage space on the third floor has been transformed into a courtroom with an adjoining office, restroom and private chambers for interviews and meetings. Space on the second floor that has been used for a law library also has been renovated and is connected by a staircase to an area that will include family court offices and space for private attorney-client meetings.
The project, being paid for by the state Administrative Office of the Courts, started in June and was expected to be completed last month. Duane Campbell, Boyle County Public Works director, said the project hit some snags that couldn’t be avoided — including a bomb threat hoax last week — but overall the contractors did a good job with the difficulty of a construction project in the middle of a busy courthouse.
Campbell said the project has remained under budget despite the setbacks. Petrie probably will be able to convene his court in its new home later this week or next week, Campbell said.
Family courts were made divisions of circuit court by a 2002 state constitutional amendment and can handle some cases previously heard in district court. Child custody, child support, divorce and adoption cases, as well as some domestic violence, abuse and neglect proceedings, come before family court.
Since family court began, the number of cases in Boyle went from 239 to 763. Cases in Mercer increased from 129 to 427.