Future of Pulaski County Courthouse is uncertain following safety concerns

NOW: Future of Pulaski County Courthouse is uncertain following safety concerns

WINAMAC, Ind. --- The Pulaski County Courthouse has been a part of Winamac’s history for 125 years--- but major safety concerns mean future plans are on the line.

Many local officials and community members expressed they were torn on the best decision for the city, but they all agreed something has to be done.

Pulaski County documents revealed three plans are currently up for discussion, and each option costs millions of dollars. The first plan would keep the existing courtroom in a newly renovated courthouse and comes at a price tag of $4,471,080, according to Pulaski County documents.

The second plan is to renovate the courthouse, but move the courtroom and judge’s chambers over to the Justice Center. This plan would cost the county $6,040,870.

The third plan would move all functions to the Judicial Center and tear down the historic courthouse, costing the county $6,905,500.

Community members admitted not everyone will be happy with the outcome.

Tom Roth, former Pulaski County Council member, argued that with major safety concerns, including mold in the building—it’s time for the county to come to a decision.

“It’s going to be a tough decision to make but it’s going to have to be made,” said Roth.

The current location of the Justice Center and County Courthouse also requires high-profile inmates to be escorted outside of the building and into the courthouse. Jeff Richwine, Sheriff of Pulaski County, said that the best plan for his department would include a solution to avoid transporting inmates outdoors.

“It’s an issue to move the most serious criminals out of this building,” said Richwine. 

Reaching a decision is a long process and can easily be pushed aside, according to Kathi Thompson, County Council member. After the commissioners vote on a plan in the future, then the County Council would decide what does or does not fit the budget, explained Thompson.

“[It’ll be] what this county’s done for the last 30 years [if the council can’t come to a decision],” said Thompson. “And I hope we don’t ever kick that can down the road one more time…we have to make a decision.”

Thompson predicted that the county could be one step closer to a decision by the end of October.

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