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In an emotional moment Thursday afternoon, several officials, including the state's chief justice, each flung a shovel-full of sand to the heavens.
The gesture was in honor of the official ground-breaking for the county's new judicial center, but the ceremony only was symbolic however, because the "ground" at the site of the construction was a complete mess.
"We would get nothing over there but mud," Shelby County Deputy Judge Executive Rusty Newton said from the podium of the Stratton Center, where sand had to be transported for the event.
The ceremony that preceded the "sand-breaking" took place inside the Stratton Center on Washington Street, where several judges were joined Kentucky Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., who addressed the crowd of about 100 people.
"This [judicial center] symbolizes the high ideals the county places on the pursuit of justice," he said. "Winston Churchill once said that we shape our buildings, and thereafter our buildings shape us. The current courthouse has served this county for almost a century, and I am confident that this new center will serve it for at least that long or more."
The facility, a 58,000-square-foot complex that will cost $18.4 million, will house all courts and affiliated offices. Construction is expected to be completed in December 2010.
Circuit Court Judge Charles Hickman called this "an important day for justice" in Shelby County and praised Newton.
"Since 1988, about 70 of these facilities have been built in Kentucky, and in Shelby County, our unsung hero here is Rusty Newton, who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in keeping abreast of all the paperwork," he said.
Shelby County Magistrate Hubert Pollett also addressed the crowd, joking how the judicial center plans have taken so long to complete because the female judges kept changing their minds as to how they wanted things.
After the laughter died down, Pollett explained that he was the one who "got the whole thing started."
"I'm the one who was chosen to make the speech at the AOC [Administrative Office of the Court] to get the whole thing started by telling them how much we needed this place," he said.
Once funding for a judicial center is authorized, the AOC Department of Facilities works with local communities to assemble a Project Development Board, which ensures that the county and court officials have input on all aspects of the project.
Others participating in the ceremony were the Rev. Dave Hamlin of Shelby Christian Church, who gave the invocation, the Rev. Mark Gibbons of Centenary United Methodist Church, who gave the benediction, and the Shelby County High School ROTC, who opened the ceremony with the presentation of colors.