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Top floor of new county courthouse nears completion

The new Cape Girardeau County Courthouse is still on track to be open on April 1 of next year, with the third floor nearing completion.

Cape Girardeau County Commissioner Charlie Herbst said the top floor of the building is “moving right along,” with walls being painted and floors starting to be finished.

Furniture for one of the six courtrooms is also finished and will be shipped within the next month. The County Commission approved the purchase of courtroom furniture from Missouri Vocational Enterprises (MVE) for a total of $362,850 earlier in November. The purchase included chair rails, base molding, courtroom benches, cubicles, desks and chairs for all of the courtrooms in the new facility.

Herbst said he visited MVE to see the furniture with county employees and the Penzel construction team, saying, “The furniture looks wonderful. The engineers and the architects were happy.”

The furniture will be shipped once there are two full courtroom sets completed. Herbst said the furniture will then be installed by both county and Penzel employees.

“Right around Jan. 1, we could actually have two courtrooms kind of buttoned up except for some audio and video kinds of things,” Herbst said. He explained that after carpet and furniture are installed in the two courtrooms on the third floor, Penzel will lock those rooms and continue working on the rest of the building.

Other aspects of the project have also moved along, with the County approving the purchase of security equipment for the courthouse entrance, totaling $50,230. The contract includes a baggage scanner, a walk-though metal detector, hand wands, training and service for the equipment over the next five years. The County bought the equipment from Rapiscan.

At the beginning of November, the County also approved a charge order with Penzel Construction; $86,250 was for additional rock excavation that was needed and $1,940 was to add lighting on the north parking lot. Herbst said the changes have not added any time to the construction schedule. “It’s coming together fast, and we are still sitting at that April 1 target,” he said.

In other action

• The Commission approved its 2020 agreement with the Cape County Private Ambulance Service, Inc. for continued ambulance service. Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy said the contract amount remains at $100,000 for the upcoming year. The cost has remained the same since 2016.

CCPA, which has provided emergency ambulance service to the county since 1968, also offers non-emergency medical transportation and medical standby at events in the county.

• A new computer aided dispatch (CAD) and record management system submitted by the sheriff’s office was approved by the Commission on Nov. 21. The software from Zuercher Technologies is 100 percent funded by a federal grant written by Sheriff Ruth Ann Dickerson.

The grant encompassed the whole county, so the software will be used by the combined county and City of Jackson’s central dispatch, as well as the City of Cape Girardeau’s dispatch center. The software costs $470,800.

• The Commission approved a lease agreement with Crain Funeral Home to continue housing the coroner’s office at the funeral home. The lease, which is $500 a month, runs from January 2020 through December 2024.

Before approving the lease, Commissioner Paul Koeper said, “I don’t think we can do any better than what we got.”

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at

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