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Examiner
  • Ken Garten: Truman Courthouse is a proud reminder of city's history

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  • On Sept. 7, 1933, Harry Truman was the Presiding Judge of Jackson County, and perhaps few might have guessed that some 12 years later he would become the President of the United States, and foster our country through some of its most challenging, empowering and historic times.
    But on that date, Mr. Truman was rededicating the Jackson County Courthouse on the Independence Square, where he served in his local government position, after substantial renovations.
    In the years and decades to follow, President Truman would go on to become one of the greatest presidents, and greatest Americans, in the history of our nation.
    He would return to Independence after his presidency, and live out his years here.
    Eastern Jackson County would outgrow the old Courthouse.
    The Courthouse Annex would be built two blocks away, and Courthouse operations would be relocated there.
    And over the years, the old Courthouse on the Square, where Harry Truman built his local legacy, would fall into a state of neglect.
    In 2009, engineers determined that the structural integrity of the old Courthouse was in serious jeopardy, and Jackson County faced the choice of investing in the historic landmark, or risk possibly having it collapse and be lost.
    At a time when budgetary restraints have plagued government operations at all levels, the restoration of historic landmarks could be debated.
    Nonetheless, our county government, under the leadership of Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders, saw fit to save the old historic "Truman Courthouse" on the Square, and renovate it in a fashion worthy of the man whose name is forever attached to it.
    Ironically, Eastern Jackson County has now outgrown the Courthouse Annex. And so with the renovations to the Truman Courthouse, certain county offices have been relocated there from the annex, including the Assessment Department, Collections Department, and Recorder of Deeds.
    And, 80 years to the day from Harry Truman's rededication ceremony, on Sept. 7, 2013, Jackson County had another rededication ceremony of what is now called the Truman Courthouse.
    Recently, I noticed a deed to be sent there for recording in our outgoing mail just as I happened to be heading to court in Independence.
    I'll just take this and record it myself at the new Recorder's office after Court, I thought, and check out the new renovations.
    So I pulled the deed from our outgoing mail, and that's what I did.
    Let me tell you, I was blown away.
    The newly renovated Truman Courthouse is sparkling.
    The updated and upgraded technology at the Recorder of Deeds' office provided for prompt and immediate service and recording of the deed on the spot, as I stood there, a process that might have taken days or even weeks to accomplish some years ago.
    Page 2 of 2 - Plus, the historical features of the building – the offices of the Independence Tourism Department, the Jackson County Historical Society, and the Jackson County Museum of Art, along with the original office and courtroom of Harry Truman, pristinely preserved in original condition – made me feel as if I had stepped back in time.
    It was awe inspiring.
    Sometimes I forget that we live in an area of enormous historical significance.
    But make no mistake, we do.
    And a visit to the newly renovated and historic Truman Courthouse on the Independence Square is just the ticket for a wonderful reminder of that.
    Ken Garten is a Blue Springs attorney. Email him at krgarten@yahoo.com
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