Courthouse installs snack machines for public to use
URBANA – It may not be as momentous as the opening of the new courthouse, but Champaign County reached another milestone in its history this week.
Pepsi, coffee and snack machines for the public to use were installed on the first floor.
When the nearly $28 million new courthouse and renovated old courthouse opened in May 2002, there was nary a picture on a wall or a beverage to be found for sale for anyone visiting the public building.
Former Sheriff David Madigan had decreed there would be no food or drink in any public areas. Vending machines have always been available for courthouse employees in a private break room, but anyone else was out of luck as far as getting chips or a drink.
But the building now has a few scuff marks, some lovely art work on the walls, and a few things and administrators have changed.
Among the changes are that a little room between the new building and the renovated old courthouse, once earmarked as a coffee and sandwich stand, was recently converted to use by the court security officers, who previously had tiny quarters in the basement of the building far from any public areas.
The four vending machines were installed Tuesday in a corner at the west end of the building near the stairwell.
"That's a product of lengthy work and dedication by the Champaign County (Board's) facilities committee," Steve Beckett, chairman of that committee, said in all seriousness.
"Remember, it went from a cafe to we couldn't get anybody to give us a bid on (a concession area), to 'Will that be a vending room?' to, 'No. We need court security' and the family waiting room remained the family waiting room, then it was 'Where are we going to have refreshments for people in the courthouse?'" Beckett said of the history.
Beckett said the county put out a request for proposals for someone to operate a concession area but instead of it producing income for the county, it would have cost the county money – a result the board wasn't willing to live with.
"We looked at creating another room for the vending machines by walling them off, but court security nixed that because it created blind spots. So we have vending machines sort of tucked out of the way on the first floor so it's not grossly inconsistent with the beauty of the building," he said.
"It is strange what we ultimately call progress, isn't it?" Beckett said.
You can reach Mary Schenk at (217) 351-5313 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.