Shovels turn for new Choctaw Nation Judicial Center

Photo by Apryl Mock / Choctaw Nation Ground is broken Tuesday, Jan. 30 at a site on the Choctaw Nation campus in Durant for the new Choctaw Nation Judicial Center. Chief Gary Batton, center, and Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr., Choctaw Nation Tribal Council members and Justices, are joined by city officials and construction company representatives for the ceremony.

Choctaw Nation release

DURANT – When the gavel falls for the judicial system of the Choctaw Nation later this year a new era will begin in all-new courtrooms.

News presented by First United Bank.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday, Jan. 30 at a site on the Choctaw Nation campus in Durant for the new Choctaw Nation Judicial Center. Located southeast of the Choctaw Nation Regional Medical Clinic, the future address of the Choctaw Nation Judicial Center will be 2250 Chukka Hina Drive.

In spite of the bitter cold, the event drew a large turnout that included members of the Choctaw Nation Tribal Council and Justices, as well as representatives from the Chickasaw and Mvskogee Creek Nations.

After presenting a historical overview of the government from the authorization in 1883 making Tvshka Homma the permanent seat of the tribal government to the construction in 1884 of the Tribal Council House which served as the center of the Choctaw Nation government, Chief Gary Batton said, “And as you can see we have progressed through the years to where we are today.”

Commenting on the location of the judiciary, he said, since 2009 “our district court had its meetings in Talihina.” The Talihina facility will continue to serve as an alternate courtroom for the Choctaw Nation. Chief Batton concluded with, “It’s a great day in the history of the Choctaw Nation. We are making this dedication and commitment to our people to offer the judicial services that we have here.”

Speaker for the Tribal Council Kenny Bryant introduced the Council and noted how proud the late Ted Dosh would be. Dosh was the longtime Council member for District 9.

Councilman James Dry was introduced and said, “It is an honor and a privilege to serve District 9 and continue the legacy of Ted Dosh.”

Chief Justice David Burrage introduced the justices and their staff and said how hard they had worked, along with Chief Batton, the Administrative staff and construction representatives for this project. An important step, he said, in working with other justice systems is “to look the part.” The new facility will do that, he said.

According to Pam Young, Executive Officer for the Choctaw Nation judicial system, Manhattan began prepping the site in December. Construction will begin immediately and the new facility has an anticipated completion date of December 2018, she said.

Young added, the Justice Center’s design is similar in nature to our 135-year-old red brick and sandstone original Council House in Tvshka Homma, which is 70 feet long, 70 feet wide and 50 feet tall. The new courthouse is also designed of red brick and sandstone, slightly over 15,000 square feet and with a traditional courthouse appeal of large columns in the front. The historically visualized exterior gives way to a state-of-the-art interior that will feature three courtrooms, offices for the justices and their staff, and ample room for existing and new programs of the judicial system. It will include the latest features in business technology and security. With an eye to the future, a location for expansion space has been identified on the north side of the building.

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