By Nadia Jones
The new Utah County Health and Justice Building officially opened Thursday morning, Mar. 4, in a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by several hundred people. The building will mostly accommodate the health department, but also includes other county services.
The building, located at 151 S. University Ave., offers more space for the health department, justice court, substance abuse program and other programs. Bringing county functions together was one of the reasons for the building, said Clyde Nader, director of public works.
“Everyone is thrilled to have the new location,” said Joseph Miner, director of the Utah County Health Department. “The huge improvement is windows. The health department occupied the old warehouse for 19 years and most employees had no windows. The new building has windows all around.”
Miner said the new building offers convenience for the public, more parking spaces and safer parking facilities. The new building includes a covered parking garage that has more than 367 parking stalls.
Waiting rooms in the building ensure visitors will no longer have to wait in the hallways. Employees and patients will also have more privacy, in contrast with the old remodeled grocery store where everyone felt crowded.
The new building will also provide better safety in treating communicable disease like tuberculosis, because all offices are specifically designed for the health department.
Construction on the building began in June 2002 and ended 45 days before it was scheduled for completion.
Administrators coordinated the needs of various departments in the planning process. The departments submitted their proposals, and the administration tried to accommodate all of them, Nader said.
No tax money was used for the construction because the health department budgeted for the project, which cost about $12 million, Miner said.
“We did it early and under budget,” said project manager Kelly Burk. “The administration, architects and contractors worked well together. They were more interested in resolving problems rather than pushing them to us.”
Utah County Judge Scott Cullimore said he will miss the history and other memories of the old courthouse, but he is glad to move on.
“The courtroom is bigger and we have two beautiful holding cells,” he said about the new jail cells. “Many security issues will be resolved. It is easier to use metal detectors in the new building that has only one entrance.”