Rosedale courthouse reopens for business
by Rory Doyle
Feb 07, 2013 | 2107 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Unveiling the dedication plaque were USDA Rural Development State Director Trina N. George (left), District 5 Supervisor Larry L. King, District 1 Supervisor and President Andrew Williams, District 3 Supervisor Preston Billings and District 2 Supervisor Donny Whitten.
Unveiling the dedication plaque were USDA Rural Development State Director Trina N. George (left), District 5 Supervisor Larry L. King, District 1 Supervisor and President Andrew Williams, District 3 Supervisor Preston Billings and District 2 Supervisor Donny Whitten.
After years of reconstruction, the First Judicial District Courthouse in Rosedale is finally back up and running at full capacity.

Locals from across the county celebrated the official grand reopening of the historic building with a public ceremony held Monday.

The Bolivar County Board of Supervisors has worked with a number of agencies for about six years to finalize substantial improvements to the building's structure.

Board President Andrew Williams, a Rosedale native, was thrilled to see the large crowd that gathered to pay tribute to the extensive progress.

"It's been a long time coming, but I'm so happy to see it all come together," said Williams. "The citizens seemed very pleased today and we will make sure this vital part of our community doesn't fall into disarray again."

"The courthouse is a big asset to life on the west side of the county. People from many towns depend on it for buying car tags, paying taxes and of course, going to court."

A number of project leaders and key players in the renovation process were honored at Monday's assembly.

Statements were given by the supervisors, County Administrator Will Hooker, Rosedale Mayor Carey Estes, guest speaker and former Bolivar County Administrator Mimi Dossett, Project Manager Holly Hawkins, United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development State Director Trina N. George and others.

Letters of support were also presented from U.S. Rep. Benny Thompson and U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran.

The event closed with Williams and District 5 Supervisor Larry King unveiling a new cornerstone at the building's front steps.

Attendees were invited back inside for lunch and refreshments provided by the different court offices, including the chancery clerk, circuit clerk, tax-assessor/collector, sheriff's department and the board.

The total expenditure of the undertaking was approximately $1.3 million dollars.

Of this cost, $1 million was funded through the three separate grants.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Department contributed $350,000, The USDA added $350,000 and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History pitched in $300,000.

The board of supervisors provided the additional cost of $300,000.

In 2009, Hooker and a board-delegated crew of local leaders traveled to the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C. to rally for the financial support.

“We were able to get our first committed funding source as a Congressional appropriation for Bolivar County in the 2009 federal budget and secured the other two funding sources the following year,” stated Hooker.

Overall, the project was managed at an approximate 70/30 grant funded overhaul.

As reported in previous Bolivar Commercial coverage, a majority of the money went towards improving the building's weakening foundation.

"Most of the work and cost went into re-stabilization efforts," said Williams. "This problem was causing some of the walls to lean and pull away from the original structure."

Hooker explained that unstable ground was the root of the problem.

"Soft soil and the building's poor foundation played a role in the stabilization issues," said Hooker. "Over the years, the weight of the two internal vaults in the building and the ground giving and pulling contributed to this problem.

"We've made repairs to have a much stronger foundation, and we'll now be able to utilize the north wing of the building that wasn’t available before."

Installing a new roof and a number of interior retouches were also big parts of the restoration.

Cleveland-based contractor Roy Collins of Roy Collins Construction Company, Inc. was also praised for his crew's commitment to the project.

Hooker also gave credit to preservation architect Belinda Stewart of Belinda Stewart Architects, P.A.

"I think the results are outstanding, as we can all see today," said Stewart. "I'm thrilled to be a part of this project and I'm excited that the community understood the significance of preserving the history of this building."

George said it was also an honor for the USDA to play a helping hand.

"The USDA is very proud to have played a role in helping this dream come true for Bolivar County," said George. "This endeavor is a long time coming, but generations to come will now have a place to do their business."

Hooker said Monday's ceremony was about recognizing the many people and organizations that made the endeavor come to life.

"This was the result of the commitment of the board of supervisors and a lot of people working together for a common goal," said Hooker. "It's been a long struggle but we're happy to finally have everything done that was outlined in the scope of work."

Hooker, in charge of recognition on Monday, said the list of people to thank was lengthy and he apologized for forgetting to mention support letters received from Dr. Luther Brown, project manager and director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, Judson Thigpen, Cleveland-Bolivar County executive vice president, judges Johnny E. Walls Sr., Albert B. Smith, Kenneth Thompson, John L. Pearson and attorney Robert S. Crump.