The chief architect of the Kentucky court system, who has overseen more than $800 million in new courthouse construction, has stepped down after the Lexington Herald-Leader and national experts raised questions about the failure of his office to make sure courthouse projects are fully insured. Garlan VanHook is returning to private practice, effective immediately, Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. announced.
In a recent interview about the bonding of new courthouse construction, VanHook defended the practice of the Administrative Office of the Courts that allows general contractors to bond only 5 percent of the value of their work, instead of the 100 percent required by state law. On Wednesday, two national surety bond organizations sent a letter to 35 county judge-executives, saying that “questionable practices” are being used to insure the projects. “Obtaining bonds from the construction manager at risk for 100 percent of the contract price is vital to protect the financial interests of taxpayers,” the letter said. VanHook confirmed last week that his brother works for a construction firm that has built 38 of the 65 new courthouses since 2000.