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Groundbreaking held for new Juvenile Justice Center
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Local officials hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Forsyth County Juvenile Justice Center on Thursday, Dec. 11. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

Big plans are in store for a new Forsyth County Juvenile Justice Center.

On Thursday, Dec. 3, local officials hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the new center, which will be at 875 Lanier 400 Parkway, the former site of the Bald Ridge Lodge, and is expected to open in Spring 2022. 

“The previous buildings on this site served the county for many, many years, we lovingly referred to as the ‘the lodge,’ but it’s now time to take that next step forward here in the county, and the new facility will provide a place that is specifically designed for younger residents in Forsyth County, a place where they can receive appropriate guidance and care,” said Forsyth County Commission Chairwoman Laura Semanson.

Semanson said the project is expected to cost $19.9 million, which will come from the county’s capital outlay fund, and will be three stories and nearly 70,000 square feet, which will include courtrooms, conference rooms, an administrative office and underground parking.

“It’s modern in design,” said Doug Shaw, a principal with Jericho Design Group, the architect for the project

“It takes into account biophilics, which is nature into the design for a calming aspect so the people that come into this facility are destressed as they go through these processes. We used very durable materials, so it’s going to last the county a very long time. Again, natural light is going to be permeating all throughout the facility, and the biggest thing we wanted to do is make sure the facility felt like home for the occupants.”

Shaw said one floor will be a shell floor that will be left open for future expansion and estimated the county would be able to use the new facility for 20-40 years. 

Forsyth County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley also spoke at the groundbreaking, recalling his first judicial position at the juvenile court, where his first case was deciding whether or not to order a child to receive lifesaving medical care that the parents were refusing.

“So, I had to decide whether to force the medical care to be administered to that child,” Bagley said. “I had to make a decision whether to let that child die, or give that child a chance, so as you can see, the gravity of that decision, that’s juvenile court, and that is why juvenile court is so important to what we do in the judiciary every day.”

Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Christopher Willis said he and others who would use the new building every day were excited to see it come along.

“If you ever spent much time in the old hotel, then you know that this building is very welcomed,” Willis said.