Thursday, November 30, 2000

Judge's plea on new court sign overruled

Too expensive to change it now, county says

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — People summoned to Warren County Common Pleas Court could lose their way; the building was misidentified at the new entrance to the renovated courthouse on Justice Drive.

        A senior judge on Wednesday backed away from his demand to replace a permanently installed engraved stone after county officials balked at the notion, saying it would be too costly.

        Judge P. Daniel Fedders, who presides over Common Pleas Court, wanted the stone that reads “Warren County Courts Building” removed from the marquee be cause he thinks visitors will mistake the building for Warren County Court, a lower level court, across the street.

[photo] At least one common pleas judge thinks this sign is misleading; lower courts are in a building across the street.
(Michael Snyder photo)
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        “It's not a major thing. ... It's not war breaking out,” Judge Fedders said. “That is a sign that is going to cause confusion. But if it is truly going to cost $10,000 to fix, I wouldn't do it myself.”

        Judge Fedders said he expressed his concerns to Jake Jones, the county's building services director, last week. The judge said Mr. Jones gave him the impression that the stone would be replaced with one identifying the building as Common Pleas Court.

        The building, which is un dergoing expansion, also houses the prosecutor's office, child support bureau, communications center and several court-related services.

        Mr. Jones said the decision to leave the stone unchanged was made Tuesday after discussing the matter with county commissioners.

        “We would have to tear all the masonry down to take the stone out, which is an expensive proposition,” Mr. Jones said. He said he did not promise Judge Fedders that the stone would be replaced, rather that he would look at alternatives.

        Mr. Jones contended the building's name is not a mistake. “Warren County Courts Building” was the original name when the courthouse was constructed in the 1970s, although the name was never imprinted on the facade, he said.

        He also maintained that the judges should have known what the building would be called because they approved an architect's rendering of the renovated entrance in March. Those renderings included drawings of the sign on the marquee, Mr. Jones said.

        Judge Fedders said he didn't recall seeing the rendering.

        “There were about about 50 pages of blueprints and diagrams and whatnot,” he said.


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