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– The only hurdle remaining for the funding of San Benito
County’s new courthouse is the signature of Gov. Arnold
Hollister – The only hurdle remaining for the funding of San Benito County’s new courthouse is the signature of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Court Executive Officer Gil Solorio said he does not foresee any problems securing $540,000 in state funds that would assemble a team to advise the state on the design and placement of a new superior courthouse. The state budget, which passed through the Legislature, could be signed within two weeks, Solorio said.

The new courthouse project was in jeopardy for about a week in June because a legislative committee temporarily yanked its funding, Solorio said. Built in 1962, many believe the courthouse is outdated and cannot handle daily business.

After the latest hiccup, an intense local lobbying effort helped get the project back in the budget before it passed through the Legislature, Solorio said.

“We’ve made it to the furthest point possible and we made it to that point via a community effort,” Solorio said.

Solorio said the San Benito County Board of Supervisors, Hollister City Council, San Benito County Bar Association, Hollister Downtown Association, San Benito County Chamber of Commerce, League of United Latin American Citizens and San Benito County Farm Bureau all helped lobby to get the project back into the state budget.

Solorio also noted how Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced, Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, and Sheriff Curtis Hill helped out the cause.

Hill said it was the calls from local government officials that helped get the project back on the table.

“That’s where the rubber really meets the road,” Hill said.

Once secured, the $540,000 would pay for a team to advise the state on where to place and how to design the new courthouse, Solorio has said. The team would include community members and local government officials.

As proposed, a new 35,000-square-foot courthouse most likely would include three courtrooms, several conference rooms, new security and a self-help justice center, court officials have said.

The Hollister Redevelopment Agency has pledged land at the old Fremont School on Fourth Street as one possible location for the new courthouse.

Proponents of the Fremont School site have argued that the downtown location is more accessible.

The Board of Supervisors has offered county-owned land surrounding the county jail and juvenile hall on Flynn Road.

Those who favor the county land have argued that a courthouse near the jail would cut transportation costs and be more secure.

The entire cost for a new courthouse is projected at $32 million and should take up to five years to complete, court officials have said.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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