By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
A little more than three years ago, various tribal officials stood on a hill in the Yellowhill Community in front of a mound of dirt and officially broke ground on the new Cherokee Justice Center. Now, the facility is just about finished according to Damon Lambert, EBCI Building Construction manager.
“Work is about 95 percent complete,” said Lambert. “There is some work to be completed in the jail portion, and then there are a lot of inspections and certifications that have to be completed. Since the BIA is providing operational funding for the jail portion, they have to come in and inspect the jail part of the facility to provide the Certificate of Occupancy for that part of the building.”
The Justice Center encompasses 76,000 square feet and has been built on a 14-acre tract off of Oliver Smith Road and will house the Cherokee Tribal Court and offices, a 96-bed jail, and the Cherokee Indian Police Department. The total project cost $26 million with $18 million coming from a Department of Justice grant and the rest coming from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
All of the construction and site work for the Justice Center was done by Flintco.
Lambert said that really all that remains on the Justice Center are “punch-list items” and touch-ups. “At this point, all of the major construction is completed. All of the site work is completed. The parking is completed.”
Lambert said a ribbon cutting to officially open the Justice Center will probably occur in December. “The Police and the Court should be able to move into the building in mid-October, and the inmates will probably begin to move-in in December….we’re going to try to get the staff in there as soon as possible.”