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Westmoreland County court office construction on track

| Saturday, March 15, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Construction of two magisterial offices in Westmoreland County is expected to be completed in the fall as part of an effort to convert the district court buildings to county ownership.

County commissioners on Thursday awarded a $1.3 million contract to Masco Construction of McMurray to build offices for district judges in Rostraver and East Huntingdon.

“We're trying to get out of renting those facilities,” Commissioner Ted Kopas said.

The county in 1998 started a program to build magistrate offices rather than rent buildings from private owners.

Don Heagy, special courts administrator, said the county has built six buildings since. All feature about 2,800 square feet of office space and a similar layout.

“That's the direction we want to move in, to make sure all the courts are built to the same specifications,” Heagy said.

The county rents offices for nine magistrates at a cost of about $216,000 a year, he noted.

The two offices to be built will replace facilities the county rents in downtown Scottdale and West Newton.

The Scottdale office of District Justice Charles Moore will move to East Huntingdon Township, at the intersection of Old Route 119 and Technology Drive. That location was tied to a redistricting plan, approved by the state Supreme Court, that shifted the office's territory.

The West Newton office of District Justice Charles Christner will be relocated from a strip mall to a parcel of land on Route 51 near the Rostraver Municipal Building.

Heagy said construction of the offices should be finished by late fall.

With their completion, the county will have seven more offices to build, replacing offices in New Kensington, Penn Township, North Huntingdon, Latrobe, Norvelt and Hempfield.

The seventh office will be in a consolidated district, which now falls under the jurisdiction of offices in Unity Township and Ligonier.

Those districts will be combined in 2018, Heagy said.

The next construction project could be to replace the office used by District Justice Mark Mansour in Hempfield.

That office is on property owned by the Westmoreland County Housing Authority.

The authority has plans to build a senior citizens apartment complex on the site where Mansour's office is located.

“We're trying to prioritize as we move forward,” Heagy said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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