Courthouse renovation on schedule, on budget

Published 11:59 am Friday, February 4, 2022

Southampton County Administrator Michael W. Johnson gave a positive update on the Southampton County Courthouse renovation process to the county’s Board of Supervisors during its Jan. 25 meeting, noting it had been a busy month for the project.

Michael W. Johnson

“We began moving the occupants and the furnishings and fixtures out of the courthouse on January the 3rd over to Hunterdale Elementary School,” Johnson said. “We’ve got everybody set back up over there.”

The elementary school has been modified to temporarily house the Southampton Circuit Court Clerk’s Office and the Southampton County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, and a courtroom has been created in the school’s old cafetorium. Circuit Court Clerk Richard L. Francis has noted that jury trials and single-defendant, day-long trials will be held in this courtroom during the renovation process.

Johnson told supervisors on Jan. 25 that the week prior, the first jury trial to be heard in the school’s cafetorium got underway, with Southampton Circuit Court Judge Lawson Wayne Farmer presiding.

“The feedback I’ve gotten from Judge Farmer today indicated that, all in all, the facility is functioning well,” Johnson said. “We’ve got a few tweaks we need to make over there, but he’s, I think, very pleased with the facility thus far. It’s going to be home for them for the next 16 to 18 months.”

Then Johnson shared an update on what is happening at the Southampton County Courthouse in Courtland.

“The asbestos abatement is underway right now,” he said. “They’ve got to get asbestos floor tiles — those kinds of things — out before the demolition can begin, so that abatement process will probably take about another two weeks.”

He said that after that, a lot of underground utility excavation will occur. 

“On the back corner of the property nearest the jail is where you’ll see the predominance of activity initially, and thereafter they’ll begin actually demolition of portions of the structure that are to be demolished,” he said. “The game plan is to hopefully get the new facility dried in by next October and then have it ready for occupancy by April 2023 — still on schedule, still on budget at this point.”

There were no questions from the board on the project.