County working in new location

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 13, 2000

Staff Writer

It has been almost a month since Pike County Courthouse employees packed up and moved across town.

Just before Thanksgiving, county employees were forced to relocate while the courthouse undergoes renovations.

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The $1.1 million project will include making room for an elevator, which will make the courthouse handicap accessible, converting bathrooms to be in compliance with the American with Disabilities Act, as well as electrical and mechanical upgrades.

When all the dust settles, the courthouse will also have new ceilings, lighting, carpet and some paint.

County Administrator Steve Hicks said staying in the courthouse during the renovations would have likely extended work about three months.

He reported some "computer snafus" after first moving into the new location, but said "It’s almost like we never left the courthouse."

Although department heads were concerned about relocating, they are finding they like being in the former Wal-Mart building in the Marketplace shopping center.

"Except for the noise factor, I like it," Probate Judge Bill Stone said of his new office space. "This is the most space I’ve ever had."

When they first moved into the old Wal-Mart store, employees had trouble figuring out whose phone was ringing because the temporary plywood walls just didn’t shut out the phones from other departments.

The noise has posed a problem, especially for the courts.

Monday night, the Pike County Commission gave permission for the circuit court to move cases to Troy Fire Station No. 2 and Troy City Hall for that reason. Circuit Judge Robert Barr was holding court at the fire station on Tuesday.

Circuit Judge Thomas Head said he has not held court since the move and couldn’t speak of any problems he experienced, personally, but said "everything we’ve requested has been provided."

Head said "any slight inconvenience" will be worth it once everyone is back in the refurbished courthouse.

Sheriff Russell Thomas said the move has "worked out fine."

And, Revenue Commissioner Curtis Blair has not experienced any snags in what is his department’s busy season.

"Everything’s on schedule with our collections," Blair said.

Of the overall experience, he said "it’s worked out well" and likes having "plenty of room."

The different departments may be making the best of a temporary situation, but they said they will be glad to be back "home."

Hicks said he hopes to be back in the courthouse by April 1. And, in the meantime, it will be business as usual.

Although relocating is a bit inconvenient, the Pike County Commission decided it was the best option.

It took commissioners a few weeks to decide whether moving was the best choice. After talking with department heads, computer people, the architect and a representative from Whaley Construction, which will be doing the work, the commission decided it was in the best interest of the public and the employees to relocate.

"If you walked through the courthouse, I assure you wouldn’t have wanted to stay there," Hicks recently told commissioners.

Of the temporary location, Commission Chairman Willie Thomas said there are needs to spruce up "since its going to be here for a while."

"It is a bit different," said Commissioner Karen Berry.

Commissioner Larry Penn expressed appreciation for the employees working to make it a smooth transition. He said the only problem he heard was regarding the computers.