New buildings and a face-lift for 3 county-related facilities

The Washington County Administration Building, constructed 50 years ago, is getting a face-lift, date unspecified, St. George, Utah | File photo, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Washington County may soon have a new office building for the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, a new building for the Washington County Justice Court and a facelift for its administration building.

“We’re going to be playing musical buildings for a little while,” Commissioner Victor Iverson said.

Once the Habitat Conservation Plan permit is renewed, it is likely that the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve offices will be moved to a new building on property near the Red Hills Desert Garden, Iverson said.

“Then it could be very much a public, educational type facility along with their HCP administration,” he said.

The county has been working towards renewal of the Habitat Conservation Plan, which expired March 14. The plan set aside 62,000 acres for the protected tortoise and allowed development to continue on tortoise habitat in other parts of Washington County.

Read more: Habitat Conservation Plan expires after 20 years of protecting tortoises; renewal efforts continue

The building that currently houses the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, located at 10 N. 100 East in St. George, would be torn down and a new two-story Justice Courthouse built on that location.

The county Justice Court is currently in a building at 87 N. 200 East in St. George. It housed a furniture store before it housed the court and is not well-suited for court functions, Iverson said.

“You really wouldn’t want an active shooter situation up there,” he said.

A new building would simplify things for the public, he said.

The Washington County Justice Court handles traffic tickets from the City of St. George and the county and recently contracted with the Town of Leeds as well. The Justice Court also has the authority to deal with class B and C misdemeanors, violations of ordinances, small claims and infractions committed within their territorial jurisdiction.

County officials have considered building a big new county administration building that would house both the county offices and the Justice Court, Iverson said. The current building just turned 50 years old.

“But we’re kind of getting away from that idea,” Iverson said.

“It’s really good not to have a justice court in an administration building, … you have to have everybody walking through metal detectors just to come do simple transactions.”

County officials are planning to stay in the old County Administration Building for another 10 years and will be giving the building a face-lift.

Past commissions have been saving money for a new building, Iverson said, but pulling the trigger on the $22 million project has been difficult.

“Our general fund, it’s fine, but it is a little tight and we haven’t raised taxes in almost 20 years,” Iverson said. “So I would hate to go through a truth-in-taxation (hearing) when I’m sitting in a nice, brand new, shiny office.”

To start the process of refurbishing the old building, commissioners approved a $9,000 proposal from Kasi Miller Designs of St. George for interior design work at a commission meeting Thursday.

“We decided that we needed a little help when it came to picking out paints and different things,” Iverson said. “We’re not exactly good interior designers. I’m sure the public will appreciate the building when it’s spruced up a little bit more.”

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • beacon September 17, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Putting another building on Red Hills Parkway, a road that already has too much traffic which will become unsustainable and very dangerous with the curves and number of people, is just a bad decision. There are other places that our commissioners can consider for the habitat building that don’t create a problem which will require a solution in the future and more of our tax money probably. Why draw all visitors up to one area? Why not spread them out? Of course with the City of St. George having some property up there, that’s a sweet deal for them. There are easier ways to “educate” the public about the Reserve/NCA in the Pioneer Park and desert garden area than creating a mess. Reader boards would be quite sufficient, and yet, as with so many other decisions made by leaders in this area, bigger is better apparently. As long as they have our tax money to spend and property that is lying idle they are happy to plow ahead. The mantra “pave over paradise” never had a better area in which to be realized.

  • .... September 17, 2016 at 11:43 am

    Maybe you should move and then you wouldn’t have to worry about it ! L0L better get your blood pressure checked before your head explodes and maybe get a prescription for your excessive whining LOL !

    • beacon September 17, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      Your comment looks like your blood pressure may be more of a problem than mine. Glad to know that you and others are willing to pay more in taxes for decisions such as this since growth does not pay for itself. I can certainly afford to pay but don’t really prefer to do so. Given that Utah has some of the lowest income in the nation and Washington County is 5th from the bottom in the state at around $29,000, I’d think that people who really can’t afford to waste money on such projects might be concerned but I guess that’s not the case. Thought I was living in a conservative Republican area but leaders and citizens don’t seem to have trouble spending money and taxing. They’ll be coming for more in November for the local option sales tax, so you’ll probably be happy about that. As for moving, since I too pay my taxes, I have every right to acknowledge what I consider poor leadership, wasting money and creating problems so moving is not in my plans. By the way, my blood pressure is very low.

  • .... September 17, 2016 at 11:49 am

    Looks like a good way to spend our tax dollars. the area is changing and growing. I like what they have in mind. glad to see this project go forward. Praise the Lord !

    • ladybugavenger September 17, 2016 at 5:29 pm

      You like to pay taxes so I’m going to start a ladybugavenger tax you can mail your payment to: ladybugavenger tax fund, 123 ladybugavenger lane, ladybugavenger land USA, 00000

      • .... September 18, 2016 at 8:12 am

        The check is in the mail. !

  • St. G September 17, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    The bigger the better…for some.

  • ScanMeister September 17, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Hopefully they remodel the bathrooms in the Washington County building. Really in need of renovation and disabled persons are out of luck using most of them. I agree also the new Justice Courthouse is long overdue. The former furniture store building was never very practical for the current use.

  • Not_So_Much September 18, 2016 at 7:51 am

    Pay more in taxes, we’ll find somewhere to spend it.

  • youcandoit September 18, 2016 at 11:16 am

    They should build drug rehabilitation services there’s a huge problem all over.

    • beacon September 18, 2016 at 7:02 pm

      Yes, there are much better ways to spend taxes than what they have planned and what you’ve noted youcandoit seems worth consideration. Whenever the economy improves some in government feel the need to overspend. Then when the economy goes back down, citizens are left paying for it anyway. The Washington County Water Conservancy District office was built if not during the heydays of the mid 2000s then soon after that. Theirs is a massive building near where the new habitat building on Red Hills Parkway would be and is a building that is virtually empty. Some might ask, “Why can’t the habitat offices be incorporated there and make better use of the $5 million building? It would be nice to have leaders who are looking more closely at options.

      • .... September 18, 2016 at 10:32 pm

        Whaaaaaaaaaa whaaaaaaaaaaa whaaaaaaaaa

      • .... September 19, 2016 at 8:42 am

        Want me to call your doctor and get you a pacifier. Pssssssst. Youhoo they’re going to go ahead with the project. .ha ha you lose

  • Ron September 19, 2016 at 10:44 am

    County and City officials will reap the rewards of their continued excessive use of tax dollars. They need to stop treating the citizenry as their personal ATM, and stop making withdrawals of tax dollars at their every whim.
    They need to remember that all City and County elected officials must face the voters sooner or later. And, elections DO have consequences.

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