Lake commission approves $1.5M to renovate old courthouse



LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - An old historic courthouse in Lake County is about to get a multimillion-dollar makeover.

The Lake County Commission has approved the $1.5 million spending to renovate the mostly vacant historic courthouse so the sheriff can move in.

The courthouse, which hasn't seen a trial in decades, is at Main Street and Sinclair Avenue, in Tavares.

Officials said the current Sheriff's Office is too small, so once it's done the sheriff will walk part of his team about 20 paces into the renovated building.

"We are pretty much busting at the seams and we have been for quite some time now," Lt. John Herrell of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said.

In the 1960s, the current Sheriff's Office was the jail. In 2013, it's cramped and old, though not nearly as old as the courthouse to which they are moving at taxpayer expense.

"We delayed this project for several months because we didn't get the bids in at the price we needed. So we are watching the dollars," Jimmy Conner of the Lake County Commission said.

The project was first pitched more than three years ago at a time when county employees were losing their jobs due to budget cuts so it went nowhere.

While Conner does not believe the county has turned the financial corner, the project will go forward, though he assures taxpayers it won't be anything fancy.

"We build frugal buildings, period," Conner said.

The remodeling will start next year.