A computer-generated image of the entrance to the future Riverton Justice Center at Major and Gasser roads. Image by Reilly Johnson Architecture.

A computer-generated image of the entrance to the future Riverton Justice Center at Major and Gasser roads. Image by Reilly Johnson Architecture.

(Lander, Wyo.) – Plans for the future Riverton Justice Center continue to move forward as the Fremont County Commission on Tuesday took concrete, detailed steps in this final design phase.

During a more than 90 minute discussion, the commission agreed unanimously to go with Reilly Johnson Architecture’s recommendations for exterior materials and almost unanimously on ballistic glass to be used across nearly the entire exterior of the building.

Reilly Johnson partners Rick Backes and Bob Johnson needed some material decisions to be made so that their team could move forward with creating construction documents.

In the current $4.93 million estimated cost no ballistic protection was built in, Johnson said. He said if the commission wanted to put ballistic glass in all windows that would cover heads up to 7 or 8 feet high, the cost would be an additional $115,000. If the commission wanted to take out ballistic protection from the lobby, it would save $43,000. Minimizing the size of other windows wouldn’t save too much money, Johnson said, because the space would still have to be filled by some other material.

Included in the $115,000 price tag is the filling of the walls’ concrete blocks’ chambers with sand for added protection.

Chairman Doug Thompson said not installing ballistics protection would defeat one of the motivating factors for the new building: the 2012 discovery of a bullet hole through the current courtroom’s wall. He also said picking favorites among the court, attorney and sheriff’s offices (who gets ballistic glass and who doesn’t) wouldn’t be appropriate either.

The estimated $4.93 million total cost includes more than $640,000 in contingency funds. The $115,000 for the ballistic protection would come from the contingency. Commissioner Larry Allen said he was in favor of the ballistic glass, but he had concerns about needing those contingency funds later. “I vote to go fully ballistic,” he said.

Commissioner Keja Whiteman was the lone person not in support of the ballistic glass. She said because the glass won’t be the highest rated possible it might not be worth spending the money. “I don’t think it’s the best use of the money,” she said. The specific rating of the glass was not discussed in open session due to safety concerns.

There was some discussion surrounding how to offset the ballistics costs, including eliminating a $70,000 generator, limiting the number of key-card access doors or downgrading lighting from LED to standard lightbulbs. No formal decisions on those matters were made.

Around most of the building starting at the bottom will be a ground-face block type of rock followed by a narrow accent band around 5 feet and four inches off the ground. Above the accent band the exterior walls will be coated in a synthetic stucco. Colors will be determined on-site at the start of construction.

Concerns were raised by the county’s Maintenance Supervisor JR Oakley about the possibility of birds being able to peck holes in the stucco-like finish. The architects promised they would look into the cost of an extra-hard finish. The commission, through unanimous consensus and not a formal vote, agreed to go with the architects’ recommendations with caveat that they look into the bird-proofing of the synthetic stucco.

The architect team was scheduled to meet today with the user groups to begin nailing down more details.

How the project will be funded is still up in the air. Some funds could become available through this year’s Legislature. There has also been talk of the county taking a loan from its own reserve funds to cover some of the cost.