Maine Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Leigh Saufley wielded a large pair of red shears Friday at a ribbon-cutting, officially opening the new Waldo Judicial Center.

Flanked by Sen. Erin Herbig, D-Waldo County, and Republican former Senate President Mike Thibodeau, Saufley acknowledged local dignitaries who made the $13.5 million courthouse possible.

Many state representatives were on hand, as were all three county commissioners and Belfast Mayor Samantha Paradis.

"This facility has been needed for a very long time," Saufley said. "It represents justice in the middle of where the people of Belfast and of the people of Waldo County will wander on a regular basis."

Saufley said that in October 2016, Mark Carter of North Peak Architects was selected to design, and Ganneston Construction Corp. shortly thereafter to build, "this incredible solid building."

"They did an extraordinary job," she said.

According to Saufley, the building was built on time and at budget. It sits on a 1-acre site where a former garage, a home, and a small business office once stood.

The new courthouse replaces both the existing District and Superior courts. The three-story, 38,000-square-foot building has three courtrooms, is handicapped-accessible throughout, and is state-of-the-art in terms of communications, security and technology.

Saufley said the new courthouse has a consolidated clerk's office, multiple public conference rooms, rooms dedicated to mediation, and plenty of parking capacity. Other features include "energy-efficient heating and lighting" and is "flooded" with natural light in the second-story sitting area with views of downtown Belfast and the bay.

In closing, Saufley thanked the "unsung heroes," the clerks who have "worked so long in such challenging settings, and the marshals who have kept us safe."

"It really does make a difference when people work together," she said.