County establishes courthouse committee

Published 9:27 am Wednesday, March 30, 2016

With the Virginia Supreme Court dictating that the county upgrade its courthouse facility to today’s security standards, the Southampton County Board of Supervisors on Monday evening established a courthouse planning committee to help the supervisors determine whether the century-old building should be replaced or renovated.

“This committee can assist by planning the details of the temporary accommodations for the commonwealth’s attorney and respective clerks’ offices, management of the court docket while the facility is being renovated and the transportation of jurors, witnesses and in-custody defendants,” county administrator Mike Johnson said.

“Conversely, if the new construction, new site option is selected, this committee may provide the board with recommendations regarding potential future sites.

“Regardless of the selected option, this committee may assist with development of a public communications plan and guidance to the architect during final design. I’m convinced that the planning process will work much more smoothly with an advisory committee in place.”

The Supreme Court suggests that the committee be comprised Johnson; Franklin City Manager Randy Martin; judges from the circuit court; general district court and the juvenile and domestic relations court; clerks from the respective courts; sheriff; commonwealth’s attorney; one member of the board of supervisors; one member of the Franklin City Council; a member of the local bar association; and one at-large citizen appointed by the board of supervisors.

Dr. Alan Edwards, who represents the Jerusalem District, volunteered to be the supervisors’ representative on the committee. Both Courtland Mayor Danny Williams and former Southampton County Clerk of the Circuit Court Wayne Cosby were selected to the at-large positions after the supervisors made a motion to modify the Supreme Court’s suggestion.

“This thing has to be done, and we need to control our own destiny. I do like the idea of us being in charge. It’s not going to be pretty — $14 to $18 million — but we have to get involved with it,” vice chairman Ronald West said.

“[If we don’t get out in front of it, the judges] build a building and hand us a bill,” Dr. Alan Edwards said.