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Dismissed: Cumberland Court Remains Closed

Posted January 22, 2007

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— The Cumberland County Courthouse won't reopen until at least Wednesday morning because of electrical problems, officials said Monday.

A power outage on some floors of the courthouse shut down the building Friday morning. The main circuits coming into the building malfunctioned -- officials haven't determined how that happened -- and a replacement part is being flown in from Indiana on Tuesday, officials said.

"I'm told that (the part) had to be constructed and flown in from the Midwest,” said Sara VanderClute, a spokeswoman for Cumberland County government.

While lights shine in some areas of the building, there is no power for the X-ray and metal detectors. That's why officials decided to close the building to most employees and the public.

"It’s because of the inability to maintain security at the entrances and to light the hallways and to keep it safe,” VanderClute said.

The closure has forced the delay of two jury trials, including a murder case. The courthouse handles more than 100,000 criminal and civil cases a year.

But the building also houses other county offices, and the closure caught many visitors by surprise.

“It’s important to get those taxes paid on the car,” said Billy Malloy, who drove a half hour to take care of business at the courthouse Monday.

Julie Wiedemann drove from Raeford to get a birth certificate for her youngest child.

“I’ve been waiting to come down and get it,” Wiedemann said. “Now that I’ve finally made the trip down, I have to come back.”

Criminal and traffic cases will be rescheduled through the clerks' offices, and notices will be sent to defendants. Some hearings involving people in jail will take place at the county detention center. Jurors scheduled for Tuesday don't need to report for duty.

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