By Aziza Jackson
MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, Ark. — Mississippi County voters recently approved the extension and share of a hospital tax granting the county permission to acquire a $16 million bond to renovate the Blytheville and Osceola courthouses. Voters had to approve both measures in order to split the tax between the Mississippi County Hospital System and repairs and renovations at both historic courthouses.
“I’m pleased that we were able to reach such a large number of voters and get them the information that they needed to know to cast their vote and receive a resounding wave of support about these issues,” said Mississippi County Judge John Nelson in a news release.
“Everywhere we went, it was obvious to me that people really wanted these historic buildings to stay in place, but they also were very adamant that they wanted our hospitals to stay in business, especially with the industry we keep throughout the county,” said Nelson.
Built in 1921, the Blytheville courthouse faces south and is a four-story brick and stone structure. The first story is faced with stone. The upper stories have buff colored brick divided by vertical stone dividers. Above the first story entrance is a small wrought iron balcony. The fourth story is recessed and has a flat roof line.
The Osceola courthouse was built in 1913, faces south and is a two-story stone structure. The south front has a large porch with four high columns supporting a wide header with raised parapet along the top. On the center of the roof is a large copper dome. The building was restored in 1991. The architect was John K Warriner of Osceola and the contractor was Oldfield Restoration of Cabot.
According to KAIT8, Nelson held a public forum to discuss the courthouse renovations and additions, and said about $2 million will be allocated for the Osceola courthouse but the majority of the funds will go toward the more dire Blytheville courthouse that is reportedly in need of a new roof, electrical, plumbing and updated security measures.
A report from KAIT8 contributed to this story.