The consolidation of the Gila County court system nears completion as employees of the Pine Justice Court prepare to move their business to the new Payson Regional Justice Court.
"We held a number of meetings last summer and determined that it would be financially sound to consolidate the Pine, Miami and Hayden/Winkleman courts," said District 1 Supervisor Ron Christensen. By combining the five separate courts into two regional courts, the county will save taxpayers roughly $300,000 a year, he said.
"Judge (Jim) Weeks, the elected judge in Pine, will come to Payson and conduct court here," Christensen said. Pine cases will be thrown into the schedule along with Payson cases. Weeks and Payson Justice of the Peace Ronnie McDaniel will hear whatever cases are assigned to them.
"I don't think this will create a major impact on our court," said McDaniel. "The biggest problem I think we'll have is catching up. The cases they've been hearing in Pine have to be put into our system. That will take a little time."
Along with traveling to Payson for cases, Weeks will also serve as a traveling judge, filling in for judges in the Payson and Globe courts. When his term in office is up, court officials speculate that Weeks will be appointed by the superior court judge as judge pro-tem, substituting for judges around the county as needed.
In addition to incorporating Pine into the new regional court, the Payson court will also be hearing cases out of Young, which previously were referred to the Globe court system.
The Pine Justice Court closes its doors at 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4. Pine cases set for the following week will be heard in the new Payson Regional Justice Court at 714 S. Beeline Highway as of 8 a.m. Monday, Dec. 7.