HISTORIC OPENING OF THE NEW KENT COUNTY COURTHOUSE
|Govenor Markell speaking at the Kent County Courthouse opening ceremony. Seated (from left) are President Judge Vaughn, Chief Justice Steele, Resident Judge Witham, President Pro Tem DeLuca and Justice Ridgely.
On June 14, 2011, the new Kent County Courthouse officially opened. Kent County Superior Court Resident Judge William L. Witham, Jr. coordinated and oversaw the Courthouse Opening Ceremony; in attendance at the event were judicial officers, attorneys, government leaders, other dignitaries, and members of the public. Governor Jack A. Markell, Chief Justice Myron T. Steele, Superior Court President Judge James T. Vaughn, Jr. and Judge Witham spoke at the ceremony. Judge Henry duPont Ridgely provided historical comments. Tributes were presented by President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Anthony DeLuca, and Representative E. Brad Bennett. Special presentations at the ceremony included the presentation of the portrait of the late Superior Court Judge William G. Bush, III, which will hang in the new Courthouse, and presentations to Mrs. Robert O'Brien in honor of her late husband by the State of Delaware and by Kent County. Following the presentation of the key to the Courthouse by Director Ann Visalli, Office of Management and Budget, to President Judge Vaughn, those in attendance toured the Courthouse and attended a reception hosted by the Kent County Bar Association.
The new construction, and the renovation of the historic courthouse, was the first major Kent County Courthouse expansion since 1874. Governor Markell and other speakers commented that the new wing of the Courthouse was completed "under budget and ahead of schedule." Chief Justice Steele remarked that the new wing of the Courthouse provides a well-designed, dignified and secure court facility that will support modern day court demands and high volume court operations. The many advantages offered by the new facility are courtrooms equipped with the latest technology to enhance courtroom efficiencies; "green" technology features that reduce energy consumption, such as an integrated light-sensing system that dims interior lights when outside light is available, and solar panels that help power the building; design features that make it easy for Kent County citizens serving their duty as jurors to find the Jury Services Assembly Room (in the old building, locating the Jury Services Room was a navigational feat); and "moth-balled" courtrooms to allow for future growth. The new wing of the Courthouse is connected to the existing historic Courthouse by an enclosed walkway. The historic Courthouse renovation, the final phase of the project, is anticipated to be completed by the fall 2012.