OXFORD – Finally, the historic courthouse on the Square is ready for occupancy by the county.
Lafayette County supervisors voted 5-0 Monday to approve a Certificate of Substantial Completion to Panola Construction for the renovation of the county’s historic courthouse. The measure was dated April 24.
The $3.1 million project has taken two years – more than twice as long as originally planned.
General contractor Panola Construction asked for extensions early in the process for such unforeseen problems as asbestos removal and foundation repair.
Near the end, much of the delay was reported as scheduling conflicts with phone and dataline installation contractors. Since October 2008 the project’s completion has repeatedly been promised within a three-week timeline.
Even with the approval of the certificate, a final inspection is scheduled for Wednesday to assure “a couple of cosmetic items – mostly paint” were completed, said board President Lloyd Oliphant.
“It’s merely a formality,” he said, adding that while move-in could begin later this week, it will likely take place mid-month.
The renovation meant two years in which Circuit Court was crowded into one end of the Chancery Building, where defendants, witnesses and victims frequently passed in the hallway and even shared the same restrooms.
In the “new” 1873 courthouse, by contrast, defendants can be held in a lockdown cell away from witnesses, victims and the general public, which will both speed proceedings and reduce the manpower required to shuttle inmates between the jail and the courthouse.
The building also has a smaller courtroom that can be used for Drug Court or other proceedings while the main courtroom is in use.
“We’re looking forward to moving,” said Circuit Judge Andy Howorth. “We need the additional space, and we’re excited that the project is finally coming to an end.
“I’ve had an opportunity to see the renovated building,” he added. “It looks great, and I think it’s going to serve the purpose for which it was intended for generations to come.”
Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.