District justice office to move within week

Construction crews tend to the last details for Greencastle-Antrim’s new district court. Magisterial District Justice Duane Cunningham will begin presiding over cases involving small claims, landlord-tenant disputes, traffic cases and minor criminal matters in the new location next week.

The finishing touches are being applied to the new Magisterial District Justice office this week, and Judge Duane Cunningham hopes to be in business at 401 S. Washington St. next Wednesday. Franklin County's District Court 39-3-05 will move out of rented quarters in the Antrim Township municipal building to a facility built by Greencastle Rescue Hose Co. No. 1.

The parties involved with the new site are excited about the future for legal proceedings.

"People who are appearing in court ought to feel like they're going to a special place," said Cunningham. "This place has the persona of a courtroom. It sets the tone for coming to court."

At Antrim, court and an occasional wedding were held in the township meeting room. The new building, designed specifically for district justice duties, has its own courtroom, offices, conference room, lobby and restrooms. It also has its own parking lot.

"The staff is a lot happier, too," Cunningham continued. He and two secretaries will have more than two rooms in which to work and store records.

Construction started in September and almost made its targeted completion date of Dec. 31. RHC Trustee Tim Myers said the project moved along smoothly except for some delay in deliveries. The final walk-through is this week and county crews will then assist in the moving process.

The Antrim office will be closed Friday as staff boxes up the files. Tuesday Franklin County employees and supervised inmates from the jail will do the heavy work, bringing trucks and a trailer for the transporting.

County administrator John Hart has toured the new building and is pleased. "It's designed for a district justice office, which is critical to their operations. It has security, work space and hearing space. It's a good building."

The site meets the standards of Administrative Offices of Pennsylvania Courts. The 1970's municipal building was not up to code for safety and accessibility because it predated the creation of the standards.

"The public will be happy with the place, too," said Cunningham.

Myers echoed his sentiment. "It's a good addition to the community."

An open house for the public will be held at a later date.

The vacated space in the township building will house the zoning department as soon as possible, but administrator Brad Graham said exact design changes needed to be firmed up. He expected it to be “a major overhaul.”

The dividing wall will be taken out and a service window likely added, he said. People could get their permits from the lobby and enter the office proper, which will have table space, to review plans.

Until the remodeling takes place, he said Antrim had been contacted by the U. S. Census Bureau and Congressman Bill Shuster’s office for temporary space. They will use the two rooms in the shortterm.