PONTIAC -- Livingston County officials began discussing the idea of a new law and justice center in 1974. Thirty-seven years and 69 construction meetings later, the new $16-million facility is ready for occupancy in downtown Pontiac. Several hundred people gathered Saturday morning to dedicate the 63,000-square-foot building and tour the new structure, which was funded by tipping fees the county receives from the Livingston Landfill.

"This building is dedicated to the citizens of Livingston County. This law and justice center, like the historic old courthouse, should stand for well over a century, serving the needs of our children, grandchildren and more generations to come," said Bill Flott, who chairs the county board's Law and Justice Center Committee.

The 1875-era courthouse across the street will be kept and renovated, and that news was well-received by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman, who spoke at the dedication.

"I was so pleased to learn that, even while Livingston County planned and prepared for the future by building this impressive new building, it is at the same time preserving the old courthouse so that it can continue its long history of service to the people," said Garman.

The $6.5 million in renovations will include gutting the second floor of the 136-year-old building to make room for meeting rooms, hearings and training sessions.

State's Attorney Tom Brown and his staff will be among the first to move into the new law and justice center on Oct. 24. Brown said personnel will not only have twice as much space, but more efficient space.

"This will be the first time since I've been here in 30 years that all the people will be in one office on one floor in one area, so it will make file retrieval and other things so much easier," said Brown. He also appreciates security features incorporated into the new facility.

Several area state legislators also attended the ceremony, as well as Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford. The Pontiac Township High School band provided music prior to the dedication, and local color guards from the VFW, American Legion and AMVETS posts raised the American flag at the 40-minute ceremony.

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