LACONIA — Belknap County's Restorative Justice Program will move from the Belknap County Courthouse to the administrative wing of the Belknap County complex in the near future.
The program, which has four part-time employees, serves youthful offenders (minors) as well as adult and juvenile diversion and bail supervision offenders, occupies about 1,500 square feet of space in the courthouse. It currently supervises 61 participants and utilizes space in probate court for a classroom.
Under a plan proposed by Belknap County Corrections Superintendent Dan Ward, Restorative Justice Program Director Brian Loanes, Facilities Manager Dustin Muzzey and County Administrator Debra Shackett, the program would occupy space in the commissioner's wing of the county complex, including the facilities manager's office, the three county commissioner's offices and Conference Room 2, which would be used as a classroom.
The plan, proposed by Ward, sees the wing continuing as a mixed-use space that would allow access by the public to Conference Room 1, which is used for voting, commission and county convention meetings and public hearings, as well as other county departments for meetings and training.
Ward said that by using the access point entrance to the nursing home adequate levels of security would be maintained by using the ''buzz-in'' system and that both restorative justice staff and community corrections officers would be able to use an office located across from the rest room for participant check in.
The offices currently used by the commissioners would be vacated and reassigned for the case manager's use and could be used by the restorative justice staff during the day and community corrections officers at night. It is suggested that the commissioner's offices could be relocated to the support wing where there is an empty office and a conference room as well as other offices. Muzzey would be relocated to the support wing of the nursing home and would share an office with maintenance officer John Gilson.
As part of the changes, which could be completed by March 1, a door would be reinstalled past the public restrooms, which would limit access to the support services area. The door and the cost of relocating telephone and internet extensions and intranet access are the only costs associated with the move.
Both Ward and Loanes spoke highly of the new location, noting that it would allow them to work more closely together to complement what they currently do within the criminal justice system and eliminate duplication of services.
''We both deal with pre-trial confinement and community service and this will help community corrections getting out into the field,'' said Ward.
Loanes said he would be glad to work with Ward in either an independent position or being in the chain of command for community corrections.
Commissioner Hunter Taylor said he didn't think that such a change would be necessary. ''We should leave well enough alone.''
''I'm all for it. I don't need an office,'' said Commissioner Dave DeVoy.