Courthouse in Virginia Nearing Completion

By KBJR News 1

October 17, 2012 Updated Oct 17, 2012 at 5:35 PM CDT

Virginia, MN (Northlands NewsCenter)
-- A 6-million dollar addition to the St. Louis County courthouse in Virginia is nearing completion.

Officials and community members met at the site Tuesday to celebrate the project.

It provides more room and upgrades to the Sheriff, County attorney and probation offices.

Significant safety additions are also part of the 17,000 square foot addition that connects the courthouse to the Annex building.

It was just under a year ago that Daniel Schlienz allegedly shot the Cook County Attorney shortly after they left the court room.

In that case, authorities suspected that Schlienz went out to his car after being convicted of criminal sexual conduct, grabbed a gun and shot three people including Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell.

But remember that case never made it to the courts because Schlienz died of a bacteria infection in jail.

But the high profile story did create a conversation about safety concerns in court houses, especially in rural areas.

Security improvements to the more than one hundred year old building include an enclosed corridor for transporting prisoners to the courtroom.

"We all want to do all we can to provide this as a safe work environment and a safe place for the public to come and this security corridor certainly adds greatly to that," said Judge James Florey with St. Louis County.

Final work on the addition is expected to be completed before the end of next year.

Courthouse safety has been a hot button issue the past year. Federal lawmakers have even introduced legislation to make improvements in small towns.

The Local Courthouse Safety Act is making its way through the US Senate.

In the wake of multiple courthouse shootings in Minnesota, Senators Franken and Klobuchar introduced the bill that would provide safety equipment like metal detectors for small town courthouses.