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Consolidated courthouse less convenient for Cottage Grove police

Having all of the Washington County District Court operations in one location might be more efficient for the county, but it won't be for Cottage Grove police officers.

Cottage Grove director of public safety Craig Woolery said he's known for years that the Cottage Grove Courthouse would eventually close, but he learned about a month ago that it would be closing July 1.

"It means increased travel time, more time in court, longer delays in court," which all amounts to increased labor costs for the Cottage Grove Police Department, Woolery said.

"Overall, it's frustrating."

Woolery said when officers appear in court, it's typically on contractual overtime that is separate from the time they're on duty.

On the bright side, Woolery said the hours for a court hearing officer based at the Cottage Grove Armory building will increase after the closure.

The county decided to close the Cottage Grove Courthouse sooner than expected due to state budget cuts and judicial branch budget problems, said Christina Volkers, Washington County Court Administrator. The closure was originally planned for the end of 2009, she said.