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Justices Get Update on Temporary Courthouse Relocation


Monday afternoon, the Mississippi County Finance committee met in the Annex Building where they discussed the move from the Blytheville Courthouse to the former Arkansas Northeastern College Vo-Tech Building, as well as the relocation of the Mississippi County Extension Office to downtown Osceola.

Circuit Clerk Leslie Mason said her office and movers have made eight trips since January, moving old records out of her previous office in the courthouse to across the street and into the storage. She added the ninth and hopefully final trip will take place Wednesday. Mason mentioned there was more than a century worth of records that has been moved.

The first four offices — county judge, county clerk, finance and treasurer— were moved last Thursday and Friday. The county assessor and county collector offices will be relocated this Thursday and Friday.

During the meeting, the Finance Committee approved a new custodial position that was previously approved by the Personnel Committee. According to County Judge John Alan Nelson, they currently have a custodian at the temporary courthouse in Burdette, the Osceola courthouse and the Blytheville courthouse. There is also a maintenance person who goes to all three places at the discretion of Judge Nelson.

Meanwhile, justices also addressed the relocation of the Mississippi County Extension Office to downtown Osceola, a move that won approval from the Energy and Property Committee.

The move allows for additional parking when the renovation is complete.

According to Judge Nelson, it will cost the county $8,000 a year.

Finance Chairman Michael White said that is $4,000 more than the county currently pays. He added that the building the Extension Office will move to already houses the Farm Service Agency and Soil Conservation office.

“Farmers are in there on a regular basis and it just makes common sense to put this other farm orientated office in there at the same time,” White explained. “It’s much more accessible and more in the center of the county, too.”

Nelson also spoke about his plans for the courthouse during renovation, noting “remembering our past, cherishing our present and planning our future” is the mantra.

He then was talking with members and citizens of the community and had the chance to speak with former resident and former U.S. Attorney Charles “Chuck” Banks, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. Banks’s father, “Shug” Banks, was the longest serving county judge in Mississippi County history, according to Nelson.

Nelson said it would be a “great tribute” to Banks to collect money through “private subscriptions” in an art piece — a bust, granite or statue — that would memorialize the legendary county judge.

Nelson said he believes it would be most appropriate if the Quorum Court could establish a fund in the treasurer’s office that could collect and maintain the money.

He added that County Treasurer Peggy Meatte checked into the possibility and has received the green light, learning how to go about adding the fund which will be named “Judge ‘Shug’ Banks Memorial Fund” through public and private donations.

Justice Molly Jackson said, “I think it’s a great idea.”

Justice Bill Nelson made the motion to establish a “Judge ‘Shug’ Banks Memorial Fund” and it passed unanimously to be put in an ordinance and to be voted on at the Quorum Court meeting next Tuesday.

Meatte also mentioned that during the move to Burdette her computers “died,” and she is in need of new ones. She said she had the money in her funds and that two new computers will cost $3,315.00 total.

Justice Molly Jackson motioned for Meatte to move forward in buying two new computers for her office.

White made it known that next week’s QC meeting may be the last ever meeting held in the current Blytheville courthouse courtroom.

Justice Nelson also addressed in the meeting Monday that originally the county had appropriated $410,000 for Arkansas Steel Processing for 41 jobs. According to Justice Nelson, ASP is not going to meet that and they want to amend the existing ordinance to allow them to spend $300,000 of the $410,000 on capital investment and the balance remaining will still have $110,000 expenditures that will go to the workforce program at Arkansas Northeastern College.