The first shovels of dirts were turned on the new Dickinson County courthouse Thursday afternoon. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on the site just east of the 1889 building in Spirit Lake. The new 11-point-five-million dollar facility will replace the 114-year old structure. Judge Rosemary Sackett, Chief Justice of the Iowa Court of Appeals and an Okoboji resident, says the three failed bond issues divided the county and the fourth has unified the citizens. Former Congressman and Pure Fishing founder Berkley Bedell calls the new courthouse “another shining star in the accomplishments on Dickinson County.” The new building will be environmentally-clean and energy-efficient. It will house a jail that meets all federal standards and will have a 9-1-1 communications center that complies with U.S. Homeland Security.He says it’ll be the first new courthouse built in Iowa in 28 years, providing three state-of-the-art courtrooms to help the overloaded northwest Iowa court system that’s facing a two-year backlog. Bedell is credited with getting the 14-point-nine million dollar bond referendum passed on the fourth attempt. He discusses another referendum more than 11 decades ago.The first referendum was held 114 years ago for 15-thousand dollars to build the original courthouse. The new one costs almost one-thousand times what the early settlers spent on that first facility. Bedell says this is a monumental leap for the growth, future and the stability of Dickinson County. County employees will continue to work in the existing building until phase one of the new courthouse is completed next August. The entire new facility will open in the summer of 2006.
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