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Old jail will be a long-term project

Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger leads a group through an old cell block at the Cole County Courthouse. County officials are taking stock of equipment that is no longer needed now that the Sheriff’s Department has moved to the Cole County Law Enforcement Center.

Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger leads a group through an old cell block at the Cole County Courthouse. County officials are taking stock of equipment that is no longer needed now that the Sheriff’s Department has moved to the Cole County Law Enforcement Center. Photo by Kelley McCall.

Thick, stone walls and ornate archways add character to the now barren rooms in the Cole County Courthouse, since the sheriff’s department relocated.

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Narrow hallways with winding turns pass from the courthouse basement to the old jail, where inmates still are held before their appearance in the county courts.

Up iron staircases and through a maze of doors and long hallways is the original jailer’s residence.

County commissioners toured the vacated floors on Wednesday morning.

Converting the available space for new purpose will be a long-term project, said Presiding Commissioner Mark Ellinger.

However, the first step will be immediate. A surplus sale will be organized to clear out desks, bookcases and other furniture left in the former sheriff’s office.

The next step will be interior demolition to renovate the north wing of the courthouse basement for the information technology offices.

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