Commissioners approve new courthouse

Published 9:27 am Friday, July 9, 2010

WINTON, N.C.—The next step in building a new Hertford County Judicial Center was taken Tuesday.

The Hertford County Board of Commissioners unanimously supported construction of a courthouse. The decision gave the green light to County Manager Loria Williams to hire an architectural/engineering firm.

Williams informed the board that she hopes to have responses for commissioners by their August meeting.

If plans go forward as expected, a new Judicial Center will be built across the street from the current courthouse. The 40,600-square-foot, two-story facility will house two courtrooms and office space for the Clerk of Courts, Register of Deeds, Probation and Parole, District Attorney and Child Support Enforcement.

The projected cost is $7.9 million, a figure estimated by Ware Bonsall Architects, which performed the Courthouse Needs Assessment.

While that price was the most expensive of the three options discussed by commissioners, it addresses all facets of county’s judicial needs, including bringing the District Attorney’s office, all of Hertford County Probation and Parole and Child Support Enforcement under one roof.

In a telephone interview following Monday’s meeting, Williams said she felt comfortable with the $7.9 million price tag, despite the fact it was determined eight months ago.

“I touched base with Ware Bonsall Architects about 30 days ago and they said there had been no major shift in the construction price,” Williams said. “That fact may or may not hold true for the future, so it’s in our best interest expedite this project in a way that fits within the price currently projected.”

Williams added that the “value engineering” construction process will also be studied, one that can save as much as a half-million dollars on the construction price.

Williams began identifying funding sources for the project. She said the two leading candidates are U.S. Department of Agriculture and a bank loan.

The construction is expected to take 18 to 24 months.

The current courthouse is showing signs of wear and tear, not to mention several shortcomings that have developed over its 50 years of existence. The list of shortcomings of the building began with access to the facility…there are four entrances, only one of which is handicap accessible, but there are no secure handicap accessible entrances. There are also major issues with the sloping of the floors.