WALTHALL — County employees have completed their move into the new Webster County Courthouse and it is now open to the public.
The move was completed Friday with some county officials working over the weekend to have their offices ready for Monday morning’s opening. Some work also remains on the contractor’s “punch list,” which must be completed within 30 days.
The courthouse is located at 6333 MS Hwy. 9 across from Highway 50. Benchmark Construction was the contractor and JH&H Architects designed the 17,740-square-foot complex.
The Webster County Office Building (Justice Court building) in Eupora had served as the temporary courthouse since a fire destroyed the historic courthouse on the square in Walthall in January 2013. Construction was delayed because of protracted litigation involving the insurance claim on the burned courthouse. A settlement was eventually reached.
The transition to the new building began two weeks ago and the Board of Supervisors conducted its first meeting in the courthouse Monday morning. Board President Pat Cummings, on behalf of the supervisors, thanked every employee of Webster County “that made this happen.”
One of the board’s first order of business was to officially record the new location of county headquarters in its minutes. Supervisors approved a motion to move the site of Webster County local government to the courthouse at Walthall.
“Meetings of the Board of Supervisors will be held there. Circuit Court, Chancery Court and Youth Court will all be held there (in the two courtrooms on the second floor),” the board order further reads. “County offices, being circuit clerk, chancery clerk, tax assessor-collector, purchasing and receiving, but not Justice Court, are also moved to the new courthouse. All this effective today, July 22, 2019. The new courthouse at Walthall is now the official government building and Walthall remains the county seat.”
The board also voted to have open house the first week of October. Supervisors appointed county employees Irene Surma, Kristi Johnson and Wanda Robinson to serve on the planning committee, which will set the final date in the first week of October and submit a proposed budget.
Additionally, the board voted to hire LaVon Manual as temporary custodian at the courthouse until Dec. 1. He was to begin Tuesday morning.
In other business Monday, the Board of Supervisors approved motions to:
• pay the bill of Netcomm Wiring dated July 17 in the amount of $40,400 for installation of access control and a closed-circuit television system (security package) in the new courthouse. Netcomm submitted the lone bid for the work in June 2018. Through error or oversight, no requisition was ever prepared on the work but the work was performed and the bill must be paid, according to the motion. The payment will be charged to and paid from the Fire Recovery Fund.
• grant a use-and-occupancy agreement to the Tomnolen Water Association so it can construct a water line across Greensboro Road within the road right-of-way, and to grant permission to install a meter.
• hire Kendall Gibson of Eupora as a part-time dispatcher at the sheriff’s office effective that day.
The board was to meet again Tuesday to interview finalists for the vacant position of deputy Justice Court clerk and begin working on the 2019-20 budget. Budget sessions were expected to continue throughout the week.