This story originally appeared in the May 26 issue of the Community Voice. For your own subscription, call 270-384-9454.
District 2 magistrate Daryl Flatt seemed to surprise some of his fellow Adair County Fiscal Court members Monday night when he brought up a motion for the court to take a major step toward getting work restarted on the courthouse.
Saying it is time for something to be done, Flatt and the court voted 5-2 to set aside $500,000 of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) money for rehab work. The motion also included securing bids for the construction.
“We have a building (courthouse) that’s falling in,” Flatt said to his fellow magistrates. “Everyone talks about taking the wings off; now is our chance to take them off with ARPA money. My recommendation is to set aside $500,000 and start taking bids to take the wings off.”
Flatt’s motion passed 5-2 with no votes from Greg Caldwell and Sammy Baker. Baker said he couldn’t vote yes without talking to his constituents first.
Flatt said the county has spent some money on the courthouse in past years, but it has been ineffective in solving the real issues.
“It is still leaking, and I just figure it is now or never. It is taxpayer money, but we’re not having to use local money or raise taxes,” Flatt said.
“A half a million dollars is a lot of money. However, we will take bids and hopefully we can get them removed for that price. It is our building, and it is going to come down one way or the other.”
Flatt said he spoke recently to Leeann Jessee, director of the Adair County Public Library, who is part of a group of citizens concerned about the future of the courthouse. Jessee said during an interview after the meeting that action is needed now because the building is losing its integrity.
“Those wings are going to do more damage to the existing structure if they’re not removed or taken care of. That’s our main concern,” Jessee said. “Historical and preservation society people don’t want to see the building damaged more than it is. We want to get the building stabilized so something else can be done to it. You don’t want to leave a structure in that kind of shape because it will eventually harm the (adjacent) structure that’s in good shape.
Jessee said she hasn’t been inside the courthouse for several years but knows some work has already been done to the structure in the past.
“The county has done the best that it can to take care of the building, but it is a big building and with those wings on, it could cause other issues that would have to be dealt with,” Jessee said. “At this point, I think we’re just happy the magistrates voiced their concerns and their support for doing some- thing, getting something started.
“You can’t complete a project if you don’t start it. What will come of it, I don’t know? I would hope some progress can be made as far as getting those wings off. We won’t really know until we get some estimates and talk to people who are good about demolition and removal.”
Jessee said she hopes people understand the importance of the project and will look at the courthouse with “visitors’ eyes.”
“They should look at the courthouse and imagine what it could be,” she said. “There has been a lot of progress made and we don’t want that progress to stop. Maybe some work on the courthouse could spur some more progress on for the city. The only alternative would be to let the structure fall in on itself, which would become an eyesore and money would still need to be spent to get the rubble hauled out.”
By Scott Wilson