By Joseph R. Gurner
Wednesday, Dec. 17, was a red letter day for Aberdeen and Monroe County with the groundbreaking for the new Bankruptcy Court Building.
It was also a day to pay tribute to the dean of Mississippi’s congressional delegation in Washington – Senator Thad Cochran.
Cochran was on hand for the dedication of the building and also a surprise announcement
David W. Houston III, United States Bankruptcy Judge, announced the new bankruptcy building would be named the Thad Cochran United States Bankruptcy Courthouse in honor of the senior Senator
Cochran told the crowd gathered inside the National Guard Armory in Aberdeen he was flattered by the honor.
“I assure you I am truly grateful for this,” Cochran said.
He said he was flattered especially because of the talent among the people working in the Northern Judicial District.
Cochran said as he was heading to Aberdeen for the groundbreaking ceremony, he was trying to come up with a phrase which captured the importance of what was taking place.
“With Liberty and Justice for all,” was what Cochran said he came up with.
“That’s a guarantee for all of us under our Constitution,” Cochran said.
He said he knew the late Tom Abernathy, for who the present Federal building in Aberdeen is named, and said Abernathy would be pleased with the advancements made in the district.
Cochran also praised those who spearheaded the drive to have the new building built in Aberdeen.
He said the state and community leaders were united in both spirit and commitment to Aberdeen and the entire Northern District.
“We have a legacy of leadership here in our state,” Cochran said
Also in attendance was Representative Roger Wicker who was a co-sponsor of a bill in Congress which, if approved, would add an extra judge to the bankruptcy district.
He said his first memories growing up in Pontotoc were of towns like Aberdeen.
“The first towns I remember growing up were Little 10 Conference towns,” Wicker said. “It warms my heart when I get a chance to go to a Little 10 Conference town like Aberdeen.
He said the nation’s bankruptcy system is a testament to what this country means to its people.
“Not too many centuries ago if someone got in a bad way, they were put in debtor’s prison,” Wicker said. “We (the United States) decided it was not going to be that way and this is part of our system.”
Other speakers at the ceremony included United States District Court Northern District Chief Judge Glen H. Davidson, Aberdeen Mayor William Tisdale, Senior Advisor to the Regional Administrator of the General Services Administration Dennis R. Dorsey and Joseph K. McGorrey of Trammel Crow Company which is in charge of building the facility.
McGorrey said when representatives of his company first came to Aberdeen they were impressed with the city’s architectural history.
He said the new building would reflect the historical heritage of Aberdeen as well as the values and stability of the U.S. Government.
Dirt work on the building will begin in February or March of 2004, McGorrey said. By June or July he said the structure will begin going up.
The building will be elevated several feet above ground level so it will be very visible, McGorrey said.
“I think the City of Aberdeen deserves a building of this stature,” McGorrey said.
Houston, who served as the Master of Ceremonies for the ceremony said the building will greatly enhance the effectiveness of the bankruptcy court.
He said there were currently about 11,000 bankruptcy cases pending in the Northern District.
“We literally have files in the hallways,” Houston said of the location in the Abernathy Federal Building.
In addition, he said the new building would mean a lot to Aberdeen and Monroe County.
“This building will ensure the bankruptcy court has a presence in Aberdeen for years to come,” Houston said.
The Bankruptcy Court is currently located in the Abernathy Federal Building in downtown Aberdeen.
The new facility will be housed in a two-story, 40,000 square foot building on a four-acre site at the Stinson Field Industrial Park on Highway 145 near the National Guard Armory. The land for the facility was donated by the City of Aberdeen.