'Bittersweet' day as Rock Island County Courthouse closes, staff moves to new facility

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ROCK ISLAND, ILL (KWQC) Rock Island County now has a new courthouse so today, the court adjourned at the old courthouse for the last time.

"I'm anxious to get to the new place, a new chapter, “says Melissa Hutton, who has worked at the now dubbed "old" Rock Island County Courthouse for 30 years. “It’s a little bittersweet. I grew up here."

Today she joined a crowd of courthouse staff for a group picture at the atrium. All of them laughing and cheering as they bid farewell on their last day inside the 122-year-old building.

"I think we've all been super excited for the move for a long time,” says Kelly Fisher, Rock Island County Clerk.

For her and many other staff members, the modern new facility right next door will make work easier. That’s due to technology not available in the out-of-date courthouse building.

Courthouse security is one department that will benefit. That’s according to Courthouse Sargent Don Neece who says, “all the doors, entryways are alarmed. You’re on video surveillance in the courthouse. It’s more controlled than this older building."

Kelly Fisher, the Rock Island County Recorder, is also looking forward to a more modern workspace. At their current location, old books line the walls.

"One of the biggest hurdles that we had was trying to come up with a solution to our old historic books,” says Fisher. “My staff can now access every single one of our books digitally now."

She says digitizing the records took two to three weeks. Staff at the Rock Island County Recorder’s Office will not move to the newly renovated Annex. The new Recorder’s office will be at the Rock Island County office building located on 1504 3rd Ave, Rock Island.

Among the staff packing up and moving out, nostalgic patrons stepped into the courthouse to appreciate the structure from the inside, one last time.

"I came here today because it’s an over 100-year-old structure. It’s a huge part of quad city history that we're in great danger of losing,” says Aiden Landman. “Just in case it’s the last time I get to see it, I really wanted to get in one last time and get some pictures.”

Several efforts have been made to preserve some of the history of the building. Sargent Neece says security removed items of value, such as the brass doorknobs with the county’s logo, so they don't get stolen or lost.

"The county logo is on them and over the years you wouldn’t believe how many people look at those and think 'oh I want to have one'"

A demolition has been approved for the old courthouse building, but no date has been set.

Starting tomorrow, county court will be held at the new Rock Island County Justice Annex.