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HVAC work forces Central District Court to move into Cortland ag center

HVAC work forces Central District Court to move into Cortland ag center

Staff photo / Guy Vogrin Judge Thomas Campbell runs his Friday morning arraignments in a makeshift courtroom at the Cortland Agriculture Center while the repairs to the HVAC system continue at the regular courtroom on North Mecca Street. Campbell hopes to be back in his courtroom by mid-July.

CORTLAND — Central District Court Judge Thomas Campbell and his staff have been operating the Cortland court at temporary quarters for the last month because of a furnace problem at its 180 N. Mecca St. location.

“It’s been difficult, but we have been muddling through,” the judge said as he sipped a coffee last week in his makeshift chambers, which actually is the side patio with picnic table at the Cortland Agriculture Center on West Main Street.

Campbell said he credits Edgar Agler, the county’s director of agriculture, plus the county’s maintenance and IT crews for getting him and his staff of about eight or nine moved and getting the court back into operation. The docket was resumed within a week last month after the North Mecca Street facility’s furnace system malfunctioned — blowing soot over the interior rooms, including the judge’s chambers.

“We met and put a plan into motion,” Agler said. “But we didn’t have to do much since when we built this ag center back in 2003, we foresaw the possibility of moving the court here. You know this is the third time the court has had to use the large meeting room for temporary quarters. If it wasn’t for this building, they would have struggled.”

Campbell said the other times were for much shorter periods because of a flooding problem, followed by mold growth in the walls of the North Mecca facility.

The large meeting room in the ag center has been partitioned into two work spaces — one for the four clerks, two probation officers and bailiff to do the office work, and the other side was organized into a makeshift courtroom.

The judge has a little area for a coffee pot and chair, but for private conferences, he has to take attorneys outside.

“This is not the most ideal situation, but we appreciate all the help we have received,” Campbell said, adding he plans on getting some of those on probation to do community service to help clean up the ag center grounds and building.

Agler said he and Campbell have a great working relationship as they have collaborated on other projects in the Cortland area.

Campbell said he hopes things can get back to normal for his court in about another month.

“The contractors tell me things will be ready by the Fourth of July. But we are going to take our time and hope to start moving back at the end of the court session on July 14,” the judge said.

Campbell said the only change in the North Mecca Street facility will be a new HVAC zoning system.

“I’ve been complaining about upgrading our heating and air conditioning for years,” he laughed.

gvogrin@tribtoday.com

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