By Lisa Kopochinski
MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, Ark.—Following years of lawsuits, the green light was recently given for the significant renovations of two courthouses in Mississippi County.
According to an article in Talk Business Net, Mississippi County Public Affairs Director Steven Savage said the county received a $17.2-million bond from Stephens Inc. in Little Rock for its county courthouse projects. A total of $14 million will be spent to renovate the courthouse in Blytheville, while $2 million will be spent on the courthouse in Osceola. The rest of the bonded money will be placed in a contingency fund.
“We’re hoping it will only take two years,” said Savage. “We have retained a historical architect.”
The courthouse in Blytheville was built in 1919, while the courthouse in Osceola precedes that. Savage said for years, the outdated courthouses have sparked controversy in the state’s furthest northeast county.
At one point, there were efforts to close the courthouses and open one larger courthouse. However, in recent years, Osceola filed several lawsuits to stop the closure of the courthouses. Voters, by an overwhelming margin (72 percent of votes cast) in February, approved the bond issue.
Savage told the media that the Blytheville courthouse has had ongoing roof problems and work to renovate the roof will begin on that project soon. A 17,000-square-foot addition will be built onto the courthouse in Blytheville, with construction to start soon.
When construction begins, the Blytheville courthouse staff will be moved onto the campus at Arkansas Northeastern College. A committee has also been formed and will oversee the renovation of the Osceola courthouse.