County courthouse removed, lot leveled
Final remnants of the old Jefferson County Courthouse have been hauled off, and the site, on C Street between Sixth and Seventh, has been cleared, making way for completion of the demolition project.
County Administrator Jeff Rasmussen said that when the final excavation of the basement was completed by the contractor, Groat Brothers, of Woodland, Washington, they used concrete from the former building to refill the hole.
"They crushed the building and filled the hole back in," he said, adding that a geological tech firm tested and inspected the ground to ensure it was adequately compacted.
The final step for the project is leveling the site and covering it with a foot of "generic parking lot gravel," Rasmussen said. "They're pretty much done."
The old courthouse, built in 1961, had significant structural defects, which could have made it unsafe in the event of seismic activity. The courthouse was also located in a floodway, which means that the site is not suitable for reconstruction at that location.
"After we get this project complete, we'll ask the commission what they want to do," said Rasmussen, who anticipates that its primary use may be overflow parking for events at Sahalee Park, just across the street.
"The city has asked if they can use it for part of the solar eclipse events," he said, referring to the city of Madras' plans for the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, which is expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors to the county.
With the removal of the old courthouse, only 21 county employees remain at that location — in the Courthouse Annex on the southwest corner of the block. The annex houses administrative staff, office space for the three-person County Commission, the county clerk's, finance director/treasurer's and assessor's offices, and GIS/internet technology department, which means there is "more than adequate parking," he said.