After five years of planning, design and construction, the Calaveras County Courthouse was unveiled to the public at a dedication ceremony Monday, Nov. 18.

Harry E. Hull Jr., associate justice of the Third Court of Appeal, said the county’s new facility has symbolic significance.

“In the past, the courthouse was usually the first public construction project,” Hull said to the crowd. “This wasn’t happenstance, because citizens knew that the resolution of disputes must exist if liberty was to survive and thrive.”

Chair of the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors, Merita Callaway, also emphasized the importance of the courthouse to the community.

“It might be a state building, but it’s a Calaveras County court,” she said.

The new courthouse features an expansive entrance plaza, a two-story glass lobby and great hall, and natural light throughout the building. It also boasts sustainability features, such as a solar array on the roof and a green rooftop terrace.

At its core, however, the building’s greatest asset is its safety.

Retired Superior Court Judge Douglas Mewhinney said safety was his primary concern with the old building.

“This facility will provide secure access for the public, prisoners and staff for many years in the future,” he said.

“When we were trying to build a courthouse, the sheriff and board recognized the need for new facilities,” he said. “We now have a jail soon to be completed, which will cut down transportation costs significantly.”

“I am honored to have been here during this period of time,” he said. “These facilities will provide safe and secure access for each of our citizens,”

Sheriff Gary Kuntz said the completion of the courthouse has been “a long time coming.” He is particularly excited about an underground tunnel that links the courthouse and the jail.

“It’s a state-of-the-art jail,” he said.

After construction on the jail is completed, Kuntz hopes to host an open house similar to that of the courthouse’s dedication ceremony.

The courthouse will officially be open to the public Monday, Nov. 25.