Mills planning new ‘home’

By ERIC SLAGLE Daily News Staff Writer It was a little like one of those home repair shows on TV where a client, an interior designer and a contractor all give a place the onceover mapping out where the bathrooms, utility rooms and study will be before the big renovation project gets under way. Only this wasn;t the DIY Network. The planning session took place in an unused section of the Curves building along Route 51 in Forward Township Friday and the participants were laying out a district court office rather than a dream home. Magisterial District Judge Beth Scagline Mills, District Justice Courts Manager Nancy L. Galvach, the owner of the building Richard K. Lewis and others trekked back and forth between the rooms of the commercial space that will become home to the court which is presently located in Elizabeth Township come June 1. The space still contains the trappings of a beauty salon that once used the site. A tanning bed occupies a closet that probably will become a waiting room for prisoners and a massage table sits in an area likely to be used as the courtroom. What probably will become the general waiting area for the court presently sports purple-painted walls. Galvach, who is in charge of drawing



up the plans to convert the area into suitable court space, and Lewis, who is overseeing the improvements, have their work cut out for them. Some drywall will be torn out in the next two months and other walls will be erected. Carpeting, painting, a new door here and there its a lot to get done but Galvach says the task is not all that bad. Normally when I go look at a place there are a whole lot of other issues, she said.  This is not too complicated compared to some of the ones Ive done. The cost of the new office is $10 per square foot. Court officials are in the process of finalizing a 10-year lease on the new office, which at 1,620 square feet is significantly larger than the current court offices in Swiss Alpine Village. The existing office is only 1,000 square feet and lacks a bathroom and other amenities necessary for a safe, efficient court. Though plans have not been finalized, the new office should provide larger areas for the waiting room and courtroom. It will include a secure rear entrance for prisoners, a prisoner waiting room and prisoner restroom, all separate from the areas used by the public and court staff. There also will be a restroom for the public and one for court staff, which is a big improvement over the situation at the Elizabeth Township office where the facility shares a restroom with a neighboring pizza shop. The judge will have her own chambers and court staff will have a large administrative area as well. See MILLS , Page A3

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Continued from Page A1 The court also will feature a meeting room for witness interviews. Mills said she isa little dismayed that the county was not able to find anything more centrally located, but I am looking forward to better serving the residents of the district with more space. I am definitely relieved that victims of domestic abuse, rape or other crimes will not have to remain in the same room as the defendants,she said. Though the new office may be a little farther out for some, for others it will be closer. At a Forward Township supervisors meeting this week, Supervisor Tom Headley noted residents in his area no longer would have to go all the way into Elizabeth Township for court. The office is located just off the northbound lane of Route 51 near the Guffey Lane intersection. The north side of the building houses a Curves Fitness Center, which is run by Lewis wife, Melissa Lewis. She


said she is not concerned that having a court next door will hurt her business. She said people who use the club actually think having the facility nearby will make the area safer because it will bring more police into the area. Mills said she would like to offer expanded court hours in the evening for civil cases, if she can get permission from the county to do so. She said the new office will also provide more suitable surroundings for court services like marriages. The county received approximately 12 building proposals before settling on the Forward Township location. The search for a new office began last July. The lease on the new office includes utilities, janitorial services, snow removal and other upkeep. The district court is sending notification letters out to those who have upcoming court business to explain that the office is moving.