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County approves of judicial center layout ‘in concept’

 Plan includes closing a portion of 5th St. by the county jail

WALSENBURG — The Huerfano County Commissioners approved the initial floor plans­ for a future judicial complex in Walsenburg. County Administrator John Galusha asked the commissioners to approve the early designs so the county could move forward with grant applications and initial site work. The Huerfano County courthouse has been home to both the Third Judicial District courts and the Huerfano County administration, and has been getting tighter and tighter. Discussion for building a new courthouse has been in the works for over a year, with Judge Claude Appel spearheading the task by pushing for grants from the underfunded courts program. Various options have been considered, including: revamping the existing 107 year old building to continue accommodating both entities; or moving, either into the third floor of the Spanish Peaks library, or into Washington grade school, currently used by RE-1 administration. Currently the leading option is to build a

campus directly west of the old jail/ Walsenburg Mining Museum, closing off a portion of 5th St, with the current county jail being the southern part of the campus. This, of course, still needs to be approved by the city and various committees before it is finalized. In other news, county administrator John Galusha presented the commissioners with his balanced budget for 2016, which includes a five percent increase in insurance fees, and an eight percent increase in salaries for most county employees. Galusha noted the budget included an expected $325,000 in excise taxes from marijuana sales in the county. Huerfano citizens Brent Robinson and Katherine Jacobs appeared before the commissioners for the second time in two weeks to continue complaining about county planner Steve Channel. The two allege Channel has a personal vendetta against them and do not feel safe around him- “He even kicked my dog,” exclaimed Jacobs. Channel counters the two are living on their property in the Spanish Peaks subdivision in their trailer, against county regulations. Channel has served them papers, just as he has to approximately a dozen other people living illegally in the subdivision. Robinson alleges Channel has called the police on him and has made false statements, and has indicated he is getting a lawyer.