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Family Court dedicates new location in old school

Chautauqua County's Family Court has a new location in the former Mayville Central School. Dedication of the court chambers and offices was held Friday afternoon.

Chautauqua County Executive Gregory J. Edwards, who presided at the event, said the project has been many years in the making.

Chautauqua County Family Court Judge Judith S. Claire said officials knew the chambers for Family Court were inadequate more than 25 years ago.

Claire has served on the committee to find a new home for the court for the past 14 years.

The new court includes holding cells for prisoners and separate waiting areas so opposing parties do not need to be seated together. The spacious areas feature skylights and even artwork done by children who have been in the court system.

New areas allow attorneys to have private consultations with their clients.

"I hated the way it was before," Claire said. "There was no place for people to sit and wait and be separated, and it often resulted in fear and tension.

"We believe strongly in being a problem-solving court, and this will contribute to that effort," she said.

Sharon S. Townsend, administrative judge of the 8th Judicial District, praised the vision of Town of Chautauqua officials for wanting to revitalize the school building into office space.

Townsend said there were 3,800 filings in Chautauqua County Family Court in the first six months of this year, making it one of the busiest family courts in New York State. She praised Claire and her staff for their efforts in establishing new programs, such as Family Treatment Court, that work to reunite families. The former school building is located on Academy Street in Mayville.

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