Renovations get greenlight from MDAH

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has given the greenlight to the Copiah County Courthouse renovation plans, so the Board of Supervisors awarded the contract to low bidder Huntington during the first meeting of the new year and new board term.

The meeting was also the first for new supervisor Kenneth Ramsey of District Four, who was quickly brought up to speed on the renovation project by architect Carl Nobles.

The county has received approximately $670,000 in grants from MDAH and the National Parks Service “Save America’s Treasures” program. The county will provide matching funds for the remainder of the cost. Huntington’s bid was $948,889, which was close to the architect’s estimate.

The renovation will include restoration of the second floor courtroom and the areas around it to Department of Archives and History standards. The courthouse, built in 1902, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Plans are to restore the upper floors of the courthouse as close to its original condition as possible. Paint and paneling will be removed, restoring the plaster and wood beneath. There was once a hole in the second floor which opened up into the rotunda – and there will be again once the renovations are complete, according to plans.

The Circuit Court administration has temporarily relocated across the square to rental property. The District Attorney’s office will be permanently relocated outside of the courthouse. Circuit Clerk Edna Stevens advised the board that grand jury will be conducted in the Chancery Court building, but other arrangements will be made for any jury trials that take place during the renovations.

Construction is set to begin February 1 and end in July.

Offices located on the ground floor of the courthouse will continue business as usual during the renovations. The board was cautioned to expect some noise and disruption in the downstairs offices.

“It will be loud and inconvenient, but worth it,” said architect Nobles.

HERITAGE HOUSE TO

TAKE NEW DIRECTION

Cultural affairs director Janet Schriver updated the board on plans for Heritage House now that the school district has severed its connection to the program and cut off the 21st Century grant funds. The city has ceased paying the utilities at the county-owned house, so the bills have been transferred to the county.

Schriver is currently developing curriculum and seeking state funding to keep the program going, probably on a broader scale in future, she explained, and reaching beyond the local community to draw in students from throughout the state in order to secure state funding. Future work will probably include more Juvenile Justice and delinquency prevention programs.

The director of the boys choir, James Hawkins, is continuing to work with the Heritage House on a volunteer basis. “The choir has really come a long way since August,” Schriver said.

Schriver told the board that Copiah County kids still need a place to practice and develop their talents.

There was no indication at the meeting that the program will be discontinued, even though the 21st Century grant funding has been suspended.   

ANNUAL APPOINTMENTS

Earl Dixon, supervisor of District 1, was elected president of the board for 2008. Terry Channell, supervisor of District 2, will serve as vice president.

The board reappointed various clerks and officials for the new year including Ronnie Barlow, county administrator; James D. Shannon and Elise Munn, attorneys for the board; Carolyn Morgan, Justice Court clerk; Joe Johnson, county engineer; Booky Thompson, road manager; Randle Drane, emergency management director, fire coordinator, deputy 911 coordinator, Homeland Security, and flood permit coordinator; Ricky Stevens, E911 coordinator, deputy emergency management director, deputy fire coordinator, deputy Homeland Security and floodplain coordinator; and Dr. Janet Schriver, cultural affairs director.

OTHER BUSINESS

Sheriff Harold Jones reported that 5,152 meals were served in December to inmates at the Copiah County Detention Center. Jail population Monday was 52, with 19 of those being state inmates.

Jones offered to set up a meeting between county and state officials to discuss the possibility of locating a regional jail in the county.

A 2000 Yukon obtained through seizure in a court case was assigned to the coroner.

The board agreed to accept a FEMA grant of $236,000 on behalf of the Georgetown Fire Department so that matching funds can be applied for. A vacuum tanker will be purchased.

Homeland Security grant of $49,000 will provide laptops, in-car cameras, and GPS for the sheriff’s department.

The board discussed the status of state and federal road and bridge funds with the engineer.

Citizens of Wesson who were recently annexed will be reassigned from Beauregard into the Wesson voting precinct, pending Justice Department approval.

The board accepted bids for county depository from four local banks.

A resolution was passed honoring Hopewell Baptist Church on its 180th anniversary.

The board recessed until Thursday, January 10, at 9 a.m.

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