By Daniel Brunty
The Webster Progress-Times
County supervisors discussed possible new building sites for the courthouse within Walthall city limits during their first monthly meeting Monday.
The Webster County and Walthall governing boards met together Nov. 18 to discuss the county’s interest in obtaining an option to buy 14 acres that the village owns. Although supervisors told the Walthall board that they have not decided whether or not to restore the fire-damaged courthouse or build anew, they confirmed that the site was being considered as the location for a new courthouse and possibly other county buildings.
The meeting, which ended with the Board of Supervisors awaiting a response from the Walthall Board of Aldermen as to whether it will grant the county an option to buy the land, left both boards having some questions that remained unanswered.
With the county board waiting for a response, the supervisors on Monday made suggestions regarding other plots of land within Walthall city limits. After discussing those other plots, the board authorized President Pat Cummings to make inquiries into some of those plots. Cummings said he would inform the board of his findings on completion.
That evening, the Walthall board met regarding the 14 acres of land that the county is interested in. Mayor Belinda Stewart released this statement regarding the meeting and the proposed land option:
“The village of Walthall board meeting on Dec. 2 focused on the recent request by the county Board of Supervisors for an option on the land at the intersection of Hwy. 50 and Hwy. 9. As discussed at the recent meeting with the county board, the village of Walthall will make this land available to the county, but more information is needed from the county regarding the use of the land and the plans for the Courthouse restoration/reconstruction. “
“The village purchased this land several years ago for economic development purposes — to encourage quality commercial growth in the community. The land contains approximately 14 acres and is covered with trees. It is a beautiful piece of land with more than 1,000 feet of highway frontage roughly centered on the ending of Hwy. 50 at Hwy. 9.
“It took roughly the equivalent of Walthall’s annual budget to purchase the land. The development of this land for county facilities is ideal – and as the county seat, the village positively supports this use. Before granting an option, however, there are some questions about the specific use of the land that need to be addressed. Since the county stated that “no decision has been made” and therefore was unable to answer any specific questions, Walthall discussed the possibility of providing the land option with some terms.
“The board discussed the possibility of making the land available to the county if the county will 1) restore the historic Courthouse, if possible, for the benefit of the entire county – like Perry County did when its courthouse burned [see before-and-after photos]; 2) keep the county court and offices in the village of Walthall at least to the extent that they were here before the fire; and 3) acquire land only to the extent actually needed for the current courthouse or annex project. Additional adjacent land could be reserved and provided to the county as needed.”
With no decision final in regard to the courthouse, the Board of Supervisors hoped to receive more answers after meeting with public adjuster Scott M. Favre on Wednesday.