Sculpture, cornerstones and gazebo saved from Warren County Courthouse demolition

Des Moines Register

The money for building the Warren County Law Center was put in place with a unanimous vote of the Warren County Board of Supervisors authorizing bonding for $20.4 million during a Tuesday special meeting.

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Workers began demolition of the main Warren County Courthouse structure on May 29. The building was removed to make way for a new structure. (Photo: MICHAEL ROLANDS/RECORD-HERALD)

The vote clears the way for the county to have the money in hand by April 30. The cash will pay for the construction of an 80,000 square-foot facility housing four courtrooms and a jail with up to 88 beds in the center of the Indianola Square. The project will also include roughed out spaces for future expansion. Once the construction begins this spring, the work is expected to be completed in 18 to 19 months.

A groundbreaking for the Warren County Justice Center had been scheduled for March 31 but has been postponed as concerns about the COVID-19 virus continue.

Repaying the bonds will add an additional 86 cents per thousand to the county’s property tax levy, nearly a dime less than the 95 cents anticipated when voters approved the Law Center project in August 2018. 

More: Warren County postpones Justice Center and Courthouse groundbreaking ceremony

“That’s been my biggest concern,” board of supervisors chair Aaron DeKock said during Tuesday’s meeting. “How can we bring in the project safely under the margin we promised … That’s a big one in my book.”

In addition to prompting the postponing the Law Center groundbreaking, COVID-19 also impacted the issuing of the bonds, according to Nate Summers of the firm DA Davidson which handled the bonds for the county. Volatility in the market caused by the nationwide response to the coronavirus outbreak prompted a delay in the issuance, Summers said. “We thought it was prudent to wait out the market for a week or so,” he said.

The bond market began to settle after passage of the federal stimulus package, Summers said.

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