An honor for His Honor: Boardroom renamed for Lee County courthouse's last presiding judge

DIXON – The last judge to preside in the old Lee County Courthouse has a permanent place in his old courtroom.

The third floor boardroom and meeting place for the Lee County Board was renamed the Judge James E. Bales Courtroom in honor of Bales, and his daughters, Becky and Lisa, gifted a portrait of him to the county to hang behind his former bench.

Bales, who died in 1995, was an attorney for 46 years, including being the Lee County State’s Attorney from 1952 to 1964. He served as a judge for 18 years, 13 as the chief judge for the 15th Judicial Circuit.

Former Sheriff Tim Bivins said former county state’s attorney Henry Dixon said Bales was respected for his commanding presence and control over the courtroom.

Sheriff John Simonton said the county has been blessed with quality judges, and Bales helped set the bar.

The County Board approved a resolution Aug. 20 dedicating the room.