Movers using semis laden with office furniture started the task of moving back in to the Ellis County Courthouse on Tuesday after a year’s absence while the building was being remodeled.
The crew from Kearney Movers made quick work of loading and emptying the trucks, often carrying the items up and down as many as three flights of stairs. The movers often ran to carry the furniture, returning down the stairs for more, often taking two and three steps at a time.
It still will be until Jan. 29, at least, before everything has been finished and moved in at the courthouse, but Tuesday was the first day’s move of what’s ahead. The nearly 14-month renovation project on the courthouse will culminate with the county’s attorney, court services and courts all being moved into what will be a judicial center.
“It will be a nice culmination of this project to get back home, and trying cases in the courtroom,” Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees said. “I am looking very much forward to that.”
Since the renovation project started in December 2014, the county attorney’s office, Hays Police Department and the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office all have been housed at the N.E.W. building at the southeast edge of Hays.
As work on the courthouse is completed, the construction crew is moving back to the Law Enforcement Center to complete a number of projects.
In the interim, jury trials have been at the Schenk Building on the Ellis County Fairgrounds and at the Robbins Center at Fort Hays State University since the renovations started.
“Everyone made allowances for everyone,” Drees said. “Everyone was very accommodating to make this work, and we made it work. It’s nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s nice to be the renovation happening in the building. We’re getting very excited to get back.”
Drees said he is impressed with the layout of the courthouse that was built in the 1930s as part of the Work Project Administration.
The courthouse had gone through just minor renovation projects before this one.
“I think it will be very functional for trying cases,” Drees said. “I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s been a good project — a much needed project. We’ll know more after we’re in and see how it all works. It should be much more secure.”
Before the renovation, the county treasurer, clerk, appraiser and register of deeds also were housed in the courthouse. Those offices permanently have moved to the former Commerce Bank building on Main Street, now known as the Administrative Building.