Supervisors continue discussions regarding courthouse

By Daniel Brunty

The Webster Progress-Times


The Webster County Board of Supervisors continued discussions regarding the reconstruction of the county courthouse during a recessed session on Aug. 7.

The board met with architects Belinda Stewart of Belinda Stewart Architects LLC and David Marsh, president of Jackson-based Benchmark Construction Corp., to help determine the best decision in regard to the reconstruction of the courthouse, which burned in January.

Also attending the meeting were county Prosecuting Attorney Jan Butler and Tax Assessor-Collector Barbara Gore.

The board members have been tirelessly working for months to come to a resolution in regard to what will be done about the courthouse that will not cost the taxpayers of Webster County any money out of their pockets. With issues regarding insurance settlements and trying to determine if it would be best to build a new courthouse or rebuild the old one, supervisors are looking for information that will make their decision the best one for the county.

With the supervisors looking to make a decision about rebuilding the old courthouse or building a completely new facility, they would need information about both scenarios to present to the insurance company handling the claim.

Stewart had previously met with the board and presented cost estimates for rebuilding the courthouse from the remaining structure, while Marsh presented his findings to the board members for cost estimates and designs to construct a new facility.

The board was looking to compare both costs in each scenario to determine which one would allow zero usage of taxpayer’s dollars. Also, with the previous issue of storage and office space that was present before the fire, the board must take these into consideration regarding a decision on reconstruction.

Marsh made his presentation, in which he explained how he determined the construction price for a new facility by using the previous figures from the insurance company. He followed this with a blueprint and diagrams for a new building.

After his presentation, board President Pat Cummings opened the floor to questions for Marsh. After a brief question-and-answer session, Stewart followed up by giving her observations on reconstruction of the courthouse from its remains.

Both Marsh and Stewart gave insight on how each option would be contingent upon the amount of insurance money the county receives. With the assistance of the cost estimates from both Marsh and Stewart and other important information, the board hopes to renegotiate the terms of the insurance claim.

The board reiterated that any decisions made regarding the courthouse would be heavily based on not costing the citizens of Webster County a dime from their pockets.

Webster County Sheriff Tim Mitchell joined the session to request approval for Deputy Amanda Vance to be certified through law enforcement training at Mississippi Delta Community College. The board approved his request.