CARTHAGE, Mo. — A contract with Crossland Construction to manage a $50 million construction project to build a new county courts building in Joplin and remodel part of the county courthouse in Carthage, and to expand the county jail was approved Tuesday by the Jasper County Commission.

County Attorney Norman Rouse negotiated the details of the contract. He told commissioners Tuesday the final detail was worked out Monday night, and he recommended approval.

Crossland will oversee the construction and can bid on any phase of the construction although it is not obligated to bid, said Western District Commissioner Darieus Adams. The bids will be brought to the commission for consideration.

"If we chose to bid on a trade package, we bid just like any other subcontractor bids," said Danny Langerot, vice president of Crossland's Midwest division. "Our bid is sealed, and our bid is opened first before any subcontractor bids just to make sure everything is upfront and open."

Adams said $35 million has been budgeted to build a new Joplin courthouse, $10 million for the jail, and $5 million to add another courtroom to the courthouse in Carthage and remodel the space.

A completion date was not set in the contract because the scope of the work is still being determined, Langerot said. He believes the work on the Carthage courthouse will be the first to start because the architect is further along on that part of the project than the others, he said.

Adams said it will be next summer before work starts on construction of the new courts building in Joplin.

The project at the Carthage courthouse involves the entire third floor and part of the second floor to reconfigure and remodel those spaces. An additional nonjury courtroom is to be built on the second floor.

"What's happened over the years is that all the courtrooms have gotten filled up by associate circuit judges," Rouse said. "It used to be there were only two magistrate judges, one here and one in Joplin, and the circuit judges would float back and forth, but as we have added (court) commissioners and judges, there's no ability for the circuit judges to float over here to hear circuit cases. The hope is the circuit judges could come over here to hear cases."

On the third floor, there will be three courtrooms as there are now, plus ancillary offices such as for the circuit clerk.

Adams said the goal is to update the space and provide spaces for court functions with an overall goal of providing more security.

"Safety was a big concern not only for the judges but for potential jurors and witnesses," who previously were commingled in the hallways, Adams said.

All of the third floor will be vacated for the construction work, with judges moved to other locations. All probate court will be moved to Joplin, Adams said. The county assessor has been moved to a building across the street from the courthouse.

There is still work to be with the project architects to get the plans ready for the job, the contractor said.

Rouse said that is part of the reason to hire a construction manager as the commission has done with Crossland so that there is collaboration on the design plans.

"This is the largest building project in the history of the county," said Tom Flanigan, the Eastern District commissioner. "It will probably satisfy our space needs for 75 years."

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