TIFFIN — The new $15 million Seneca County Justice Center received its lady in waiting Friday morning.
Lady Justice, a 2,500-pound all-bronze statue, arrived in Tiffin in mid-January and has been waiting for her moment to be lifted into place atop the four-story justice center.
Standing 11 feet tall at the tip of her finger holding the scales, Lady Justice includes symbolic features in her design, such as being blindfolded to judge objectively, without fear or favor; a sword of power and punishment, which is held lower than the scales used for weighing evidence; and a snake being crushed underfoot to show justice triumphs over injustice.
With the addition of Lady Justice, the building in downtown Tiffin is 135 feet, 3 inches tall from ground level to the top of Lady Justice’s head.
After years of contentious debate, the former Seneca County Courthouse constructed in 1884 was torn down in 2010.
For the next several years, different county commissioners mulled what to do with the prime commercial location.
Knowing the county’s juvenile and probate courts were housed in buildings that had issues, the commissioners considered building a new courthouse to allow those courts to move to a better location.
Along came the idea that a new structure could be built with some money thrown in by the city of Tiffin if it could include space for the city’s municipal court. The concept of a joint justice center resulted, “joint” because it was a collaborative effort by the county and the city of Tiffin.
The price tag for the new justice center came in at $15 million. With the city of Tiffin kicking in $3 million, the county found a way to come up with the rest.
According to previous reports, County Administrator Stacy Wilson said $8.6 million in bonding was secured for construction costs. The commissioners also saved up another $2 million over a four- or five-year period.
The judges pitched in another $500,000, and a similar amount was received in a state loan. The remaining $400,000 will come from the county’s general fund.
On a hot, steamy July 22, 2016, ground was broken on the site for the new justice center. With state and local dignitaries on hand, ceremonial shovels of dirt were turned over. The next week, construction began.
Move-in dates have been pegged at March 12 through April 2. The move-in will start with the first floor, progressing up one story each week.
The first floor is to be occupied by the county clerk of courts, with Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court on the second floor. The two common pleas court judges, Steve Shuff and Michael Kelbley, will occupy the third and fourth floors, respectively.