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Corning courthouse to close Friday
School district interested in building
The Corning branch of the Tehama County courthouse closes Friday, but that doesn't mean the building will not be available for other uses.
The Corning Union Elementary School District board on Monday submitted a letter indicating its interest in purchasing or leasing the facility, said district Superintendent Catherine Reimer. "The letter states we may or may not be interested in the property based on its current condition and available financing," she said. "We are considering it for our district office and professional development training center."
According to Reimer, Tehama County Chief Administrator Bill Goodwin contacted the district about the availability of the courthouse when the closure was announced.
"When a government-owned building becomes available, it is made available to other government agencies before other steps are taken," Reimer explained.
Goodwin has until Aug. 1 to notify the state's Administrative Office of the Courts whether or not the county, or any local government agency, is interested in the "surplus facility."
The Tehama Superior Court is closing the Corning courthouse because of budget cuts.
Gina Setter, Tehama Superior Court's executive officer, said the court regrets having to close the Corning branch.
"However, there is simply no other option due to the severe ongoing cuts Tehama Court has already received and will continue to receive for the fiscal year 2013-14," Setter said. "The court is trying its best to limit the impact on the services we provide to the community."
Angie Kiefer, Tehama County Court service assistant, who has worked out the of Corning branch for 12 years, said she is a little sad to see the closure.
"It is hard to leave," she said.
The last court hearing in the building took place at 4 p.m. Tuesday before Judge Jonathan Skillman.
Tehama County Superior Court Division Manager Betty Randel said the rest of the week will be spent packing up boxes of files and moving equipment.
All court business from Corning will be transferred to the historic courthouse at 633 Washington St., the courthouse annex at 445 Pine St. or the Juvenile Justice Center at 1790 Walnut St., all in Red Bluff.
State funding for the judicial branch has been cut by 30 percent over the last five years, with significant reductions impacting the budgets of individual superior courts. Setter said this equates to approximately $1.1 billion in cuts to the judicial branch since fiscal year 2007-08, resulting in only about one penny of every general fund dollar in the state now going to the judicial branch.
In Tehama Superior Court, the reductions have led to a 20 percent cut in staff.
In 2010-11, the county court reduced its hours to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays.
It also renegotiated various service contracts and consolidated or eliminated other services and court expenses, Setter said.
She said if Gov. Jerry Brown's projected cuts planned for the 2013-14 fiscal year come to fruition, Tehama County will be forced to cut additional service hours and expenses.
In the meantime, the state's Administration Office of the Courts is going through the lengthy process of constructing a new Tehama County Courthouse.
A 4 acre site on Walnut Street in Red Bluff, where the county Agriculture Department is located, has been purchased from the county for $1.3 million. Construction on the new courthouse isn't expected to start until February 2015.