Board reviews preliminary plans for new courthouse
The Webster County Board of Supervisors awarded a bid for demolition of the old courthouse and reviewed plans for its replacement during a recessed meeting Jan. 19.
Seven bids were received for demolition of the courthouse, which burned three years ago this month in the county seat of Walthall. After they were taken under advisement for examination by County Engineer Karl Grubb, the board awarded the bid to Ken Knight of Bellefontaine, who had the lowest base bid of $38,000. The next-lowest bid was $49,900 from Gore Excavation and the highest was $214,375 from Double S Inc.
In addition to actual demolition of the ruins, the job will include demolishing the retainer wall on the south end of the building , removing the elevator shaft and backfilling those areas with dirt.
Knight must provide 30,000 shrink-wrapped palleted bricks for the county. Bidders also had to include a deductive alternate to not salvage any bricks for the county but Knight’s base bid was accepted without the alternate.
In conjunction with the demolition, Bell Demolition and Environmental Services of Delta City is to remove, transport and dispose of absestos-containing material located in and around the burned courthouse. The board accepted its quote of $36,000 for that work in November.
Knight has 90 working days to complete the demolition; ownership of the site will be transferred to the village of Walthall when the work is complete.
Additionally, Adam Haver of JH&H Architects showed supervisors preliminary plans for the new courthouse and storage annex, which will be built on the west side of Highway 9 in Walthall.
The tentative plans as presented call for a two-story building with business offices on the first floor (including a drive-thru for the tax assessor’s office), and circuit and chancery courtrooms, judges’ chambers, prisoner holding room and supervisors’ boardroom upstairs. Board members and Sheriff Tim Mitchell made requests for some changes.
The board was informed last summer that JH&H was transitioning its agreement for the courthouse project to Benchmark Construction. The Jackson-based general contractor will prepare cost estimates based upon JH&H’s design to work within the proposed $4 million budget.
In June, Benchmark President David Marsh presented a proposed non-binding resolution declaring the board’s intent to acquire, construct, finance and equip the courthouse and related facilities under a 20-year lease-purchase agreement between the county and the Golden Triangle Public Buildings Leasing Corp., which is a non-profit subsidiary of the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District. In October, the board approved the hiring of Benchmark Construction to proceed with details of lease-purchase plans on the new courthouse.
According to an article on the PDD’s website, the leasing corporation was created as a way for local units of government to construct new public buildings without having to issue bonds.
“This program will build, and hold title to, a public building, and allow the governmental unit to lease the building back over a certain number of years “ the article states. “Once the lease is up, the local unit of government owns the facility. This option does not require the issuance of bonds by the governing board; as a result, the bonded indebtedness of the city or county does not increase.”
At last week’s meeting , Rudy Johnson and Jimmy Cole of the PDD met with the board about the loan program. Johnson is the agency’s executive director and Cole is its small business loan officer.
“It’s just a good mechanism for the counties to use this loan program for … anything that’s community related … not to keep their money tied up,” said Johnson, who also referred to interest rates being so low.
Johnson and Cole said the financing process should move quickly after the PDD gets the final plans for the building. They recommended that the lease-purchase plan have a pre-pay clause. According to Johnson, the leasing corporation’s fees will be between $5,000 and $10,000, and the county will also have to pay attorney’s fees.
“All we need is a set of plans and an estimate,” Johnson said. “We handle everything.”
He said Starkville was the first city in the state to use the public-private partnership when it built its new city hall and that counties are seeing how easy it is.
“I think you will be very, very satisfied with this process,” Johnson said. “This is a win-win for everybody.”
The board meets again at 8:30 a.m. Friday at the Doss Building.
— News Editor Russell Hood