Budget conference: Security, ADA upgrades funded for Baker County Courthouse

These repairs are expected to 'provide a safe and secure environment for all visitors and staff located in the Baker County Courthouse.'

Money from Tallahassee is likely headed to Macclenny for much needed upgrades of the Baker County Courthouse, offering what locals say would be a “better environment that is more conducive to county business and a reflection of the community.”

The House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice agreed to $900,000, fulfilling the requests in full of Sen. Jennifer Bradley of Clay County and Rep. Chuck Brannan of Macclenny.

The money, which is to be processed via the State Court System, will fund “ADA, security and safety updates to the Baker County Courthouse including re-design of the ADA entrance, improved security to the (Baker County Sheriff’s Office)/Bailiff area, upgraded windows to provide adequate protection, elevator replacement, roof redesign and repair of water damage.”

The structure’s construction began during the Franklin Roosevelt presidency, but was ultimately completed in 1948, meaning upgrades were likely long overdue.

These repairs are expected to “provide a safe and secure environment for all visitors and staff located in the Baker County Courthouse.”

The Legislature would be funding the vast majority of this project if Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t veto the appropriation. The local funding match is just $50,000 for the work, which is scheduled to commence this June, and which ultimately will “increase the experience” of visitors to the building.

The courthouse has gotten regional, even national, scrutiny in recent years for a long-standing mural that depicted the county’s history, and controversially includes a representation of a rider for the Ku Klux Klan.

“I did not follow the current and unfortunate fad of revising history for the sake of making it fit the wishes of any special interest segments of society,” artist Gene Barber said about the mural before his death.

“I avoided as carefully as possible interpreting the past using our contemporary standards. The history of the county is here … warts and roses and all,” Barber added in comments reported by WJXT.

County Commissioners explored moving the mural in 2020 at the height of a national reconsideration of racial matters, but nothing came of that proposal.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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