Carbon County's new third judge will have to wait until mid February to use his courtroom.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board announced that the new deadline for construction completion on the courthouse renovations is Feb. 15. The initial deadline was Jan. 1.

"We apologize to Judge Steven Serfass for the delay," Commissioners' chairman William O'Gurek said.

Judge elect Serfass will be sworn in as the county's 18th judge of the Court of Common Pleas on Jan. 4, 2010. He was elected Carbon County's third judge during this past General Election. Prior to that, Carbon County had two elected judges handling all court cases.

Officials said some of the reasons for the delays include unexpected problems that arise in old buildings.

"We did run into a lot of different problems that necessitated change orders," O'Gurek said.

A total of 19 change orders for general construction have been approved, and five changes orders for mechanical work were approved. These change orders have bumped the total price tag of the project up over $50,000.

To date, the county has spent around $1,220,000 on the renovations, which include the creation of a third courtroom, jury room, judge's chambers and other necessary offices. Commissioners set aside $1.5 million for the project.

"It's a work in progress. It's continuing to go on and Mr. (Benjamin) Walbert, who is our architect, has assured us that it will be complete by Feb. 15," O'Gurek said.

Earlier this year, the county hired Bracy Contracting for general construction; Spotts Brothers, Inc. of Schuylkill Haven, plumbing; L&S Electrical Construction Company, Inc. of Summit Hill, mechanical work; George J. Hayden, Inc. of Hazleton, electrical work; G.C. Fire Protection Systems, Inc. of Lake Winola, sprinkler construction; and Otis Elevator Company of Allentown, elevator construction.

Demolition for the project began in August.

The $1.2 million project is funded through the county's capital improvement fund. Officials also have $500,000 in county investments that they plan to use on the renovations.

This is the first major renovation that has taken place in the county courthouse in decades.

In a related matter, the commissioners voted to enter into an agreement with Westlaw, a Thomson Reuters business, to supply Judge Serfass and his staff with electronic access to information he needs for court cases.