Nashville, TENN. - October 1 can't come soon enough for the countless judges, caseworkers, advocates, attorneys and staffers from Metro's Juvenile Justice Center, displaced still from the May 1 flooding.
"It is a top priority," said Velvet Hunter, assistant director of administration with Metro's general services, the department that serves as building operations for many of the city's government buildings.
In a progress update on Friday, Hunter told NewsChannel 5: the Juvenile Justice Center, located on Woodland Street, in the shadow of LP Field, had just passed some very crucial inspections: air quality, for one; and sanitation. She said next week, the focus will shift to awarding an electrical contract to restore power to the three-story building.
Hunter said the cleanup phase has officially transitioned from recovery to restoration, and an October 1 reopen date is still realistic.
Hunter said the JJC, that opened in 1994, sustained $4 million in damages, and is among Metro's top four most seriously damaged. The Farmers' Market, the MTA bus headquarters, and the Douglas Head Start Center, being the other three.
Despite the admitted inconvenience of displaced staffers, courts being shuffled, citywide; and parents appearing, at times, lost on their way to a hearing, Hunter takes pride knowing the juvenile courts system was properly placed in a more than sufficient, temporary home.
"I'm really proud of the fact that a court could be only down a few days for business," Hunter told NewsChannel 5. "And could be relocated in another court facility."
Meantime, the mood on the seventh floor of the old historic, Metro Courthouse was not as jovial. Hot, crowded, and terribly confining, tempers were wearing thin on this hotter than ordinary, Nashville afternoon. Most of the judges, magistrates and courtrooms have been placed, for convenience, in this one location.
"They (the courts) do a marvelous job for the youth of our city," said Linda Eggleston, the legal guardian of a teenage loved one, about to make a court appearance. "They are forced into these conditions, you know? They were displaced, and they're just trying to make do the best they can."
Despite the adversity, and extreme conditions, juvenile court staffers are doing their jobs. Not a single day of court has been missed since business resumed after the flooding, an inside source tells NewsChannel 5.
While the JJC remains off-line, and off limits, all male, juvenile offenders are being housed inside Metro's Juvenile Justice Center, away from the adult population; while female, juvenile offenders (there were two at last check) are being housed in neighboring, Williamson County.
Most court hearings are being held on the seventh floor of the old Metro courthouse, with some hearings and court proceedings even being conducted in the nearby Justice AA Birch Building, and Metro Police's east precinct, on Trinity Lane.