Between the large prop scissors and the taped red ribbon, it was more of a ribbon-tearing ceremony.
Nonetheless, a year and a half after commissioners approved a $7.2 million contract for expansion and renovation of the Lewis County Juvenile Court Administration building, officials and staff celebrated the facility’s completion Friday morning.
The project takes the juvenile courthouse on Southwest Pacific Avenue in Chehalis from the oldest building of its kind in the state into a “place of rehabilitation and therapeutic (practice),” said Juvenile Court Administrator Shad Hail.
After being built in the 1970s, the building was in its original footprint before the work began.
The expansion adds new meeting spaces and opportunities for life skill workshops.
“There's a stereotype for a lot of folks that this is just a place where people come in, they go to court, they sit in detention and there’s this awful environment,” Hail said. “That idea couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a place full of services.”
Interim County Manager Steve Wohld said the building’s upgrades offer new opportunities for kids to be treated “with compassion,” with Commissioner Lindsey Pollock echoing that the upgrades may prove to students they are valued.
“This project is an excellent example of investing in our youth,” Pollock said. “Yes, these are the ones that are kind of getting off the track, but this is the time to intervene. And when they come here, they get to see a facility that says, ‘Oh, people do care about me.’”
Lewis County Superior Court Judge J. Andrew Toynbee called the new building a “beautiful” facility for serving youth in safety and comfort, likewise saying it was an investment that would reverberate throughout the community.
“I want to thank everyone involved and I really look forward to getting over here and trying it out,” Toynbee said.
According to previous reporting by The Chronicle, the project adds 5,000 square feet to the building in mostly meeting, office and program space. It also adds space for outdoor recreation and an additional courtroom.