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Archuleta County commissioner seeks resolution to conflict over courthouse

Judge says courts never rejected offer to use administration building
Archuleta County judicial proceedings have been held in La Plata County since September because of negative health effects employees experienced at the Archuleta County Courthouse. Chief District Judge Jeffrey Wilson has outlined concerns about the building in the past, including headaches, dizziness and passing out.

Amidst controversy over the safety of the Archuleta County Courthouse, a county commissioner and chief district judge for the 6th Judicial District plan to seek a resolution next week.

“I am looking for any type of a solution,” Commissioner Ronnie Maez said in an interview Saturday.

He is committed to finding a resolution to end the high cost and inconvenience residents face by traveling 60 miles west to La Plata County Courthouse for hearings.

“It’s the people of Archuleta County that are paying the biggest price,” he said.

While the courts have raised concern about the safety of the Archuleta County Courthouse, Maez said he is open to exploring every option for the courts, including the courthouse.

Archuleta County court proceedings have been held in La Plata County since September when Chief District Judge Jeffrey Wilson issued an order closing all court and probation offices in the Archuleta County Courthouse, where several employees have complained of headaches, eye irritation, sinus issues, coughing and fatigue.

Archuleta County commissioners offered to allow the judicial system to use its administration building to hold court, but the courts raised several concerns with the administration building.

Maez said he also finds the administration building to be problematic, in part because it would bring criminals within close proximity to a school.

“If I was a parent and I had children there, I would have a problem with it,” Maez said.

It’s a conflict that has been marked by tense communication between the 6th Judicial District and county commission. But a thawing of relations could start Wednesday with a meeting between Wilson and Maez.

In an earlier interview this week, Archuleta County Commissioner Steve Wadley outlined a breakdown in communication between the 6th Judicial District and commissioners.

Wadley said the two parties would not speak face-to-face and the courts had rejected an offer to use the county administration building.

In a letter sent Thursday, Wilson said he had already agreed to meet with Maez and refuted a claim that the courts declined to move into the county’s administration building.

Wilson said he detailed significant concerns about the administration building, but never rejected it.

According to Wilson’s most-recent letter, sent Thursday, Commissioner Michael Whiting told the Archuleta School District earlier this month that the county was no longer offering the administration building to the courts.

“This was the first and only time that anyone in the 6th Judicial District has been informed that the commissioners had withdrawn their offer,” he wrote.

mshinn@durangoherald.com

Archuleta County Commissioner Ronnie Maez is open to exploring all possible solutions to housing the 6th Judicial District Courts, including having the courts reoccupy the Archuleta County Courthouse. An earlier version of this story erred in saying Maez is no longer interested in considering the courthouse as an option.

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