Courthouse space not on tap for Monday meeting

Published 9:48 pm Friday, June 25, 2010

When the Pike County Commission met two weeks ago, it was presented with a request for $13,000 to create an additional courtroom. But, that’s a request the commission will likely not consider as it convenes Monday.

Commission Chairman Jimmy Barron said the consensus is commissioners generally support the idea to convert the law library upstairs in the Pike County Courthouse into an additional courtroom, but its something they will wait until they begin next year’s budgeting process to officially consider.

The request, presented by Circuit Judge Jeff Kelley on behalf of his fellow judges and the Pike County Bar Association, would require a total of $29,000 but only $13,000 of that coming from county funds. The purpose of the conversion would be to eliminate unused space of outdated law books and give the circuit more ability to hold more trials throughout the year.

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“We’re all on board with it,” Barron said.

Barron said the commission has discussed the issue with Kelley and all parties have agreed to wait until the county begins its budgeting process in August or September.

“We are going to put that off until budget time because we don’t want to dip into our General Fund,” he said.

When it comes time for the commission to consider the funding request, the board will also have some other choices to make.

Another issue Kelley addressed in the meeting is the need for more courthouse space. A possible option the commission may consider is whether to continue housing the state probation office in the Pike County Courthouse.

“That’s something we’ll have to work out with them,” Barron said. “Allen Jones (county attorney) is looking into that to see what our obligation is, if we are supposed to furnish them space.”

And, as the commission searches for more space, it brings to mind its only vacant building: the Rock Building.

The discussions of how to utilize the historic building that once housed the Pike County Board of Education have been a part of commission meetings for years.

The commission most recently had debated whether it should sell the building or work to preserve it in early February.

The issue hasn’t been brought to the commission since that time, but commissioners said using the Rock Building for extra space isn’t something that’s likely feasible in the immediate future, at least.

“Right now it’s not feasible because of the amount of money it would take to do something with it,” said District 2 Commissioner Robin Sullivan. “It’s a building we should preserve as soon as we can.”

District 4 Commissioner Ray Goodson, who originally presented the Rock Building preservation idea, said he’s hoping the building’s preservation will be possible one day.

“The money’s just the problem,” Goodson said, of an estimated $800,000 project.