For many years the old third floor room in the Old Lee County Courthouse has been the Lee County Boardroom. However, when it was a courtroom it was the domain of Judge James E. Bales.
Bales, who was born in Dixon was the Lee County State’s Attorney from 1952-1964, From 1966-1985 he occupied the third floor courtroom as the Circuit Court Judge with 13 of those years as Chief Circuit Judge of the 15th Judicial Circuit.
According to those who knew the judge, or had to be in his court, described him as a no nonsense judge and one who would not tolerate disrespect of the court, according to former Senator Tim Bivins.
Bivins said Bales was an imposing figure when he was in that courtroom with his black robes and white hair. But, Bivins also recalls the judge as also having a sense of kindness about him.
During the Lee County Board meeting Tuesday the board voted to dedicate and rename the third floor board room as the James E. Bales Room.
The judge will be returning to his old courtroom as a portrait of Judge Bales was unveiled by his daughters. The portraint will be placed on the wall directly above where the County Board Chair currently sits and the location where the judge sat. Judge Bales died in 1995.