Mississippi County Leaders Accept Bond Money
Mississippi County made history last Tuesday afternoon in Little Rock when County Judge John Alan Nelson and other elected officials accepted bond proceeds from Stephens Inc., totaling $17,252,847.39 to fund renovations for its courthouses in Blytheville and Osceola.
Stephens Inc., hosted a formal bond closing and appreciation luncheon for elected officials to celebrate. Three Mississippi County Quorum Court members participated in the meeting, including Justice Molly Houseworth Jackson, Justice Neil Burge, and Justice Michael White. In addition, Judge Nelson's wife Angie, Administrative Assistant to the County Judge Cindy George, County Clerk Janice Currie, County Treasurer Peggy Meatte, and Financial Director Kelli Jones were in attendance.
Judge Nelson said, "This endeavor will be a landmark in the history of Mississippi County. Preserving our past pays tribute to those who have come before us and leaves a message to those who follow. We take on this tremendous responsibility with highest respect. The citizens of our county have entrusted us with their hard-earned money to make those decisions that will prove to carry this project to a successful completion we can all be proud of."
The county retained historical architect Aaron Ruby of Revival Architecture to prepare the blueprints and designs for the Blytheville courthouse. Meanwhile, a committee made up of Osceola residents will decide how the Osceola construction funds will be used.
Earlier this month, the county judge, along with his staff and Ruby, interviewed construction firms. The firms offered their professional services in the renovation and new construction of the two courthouses. However, the Arkansas State Legislature changed the rules and eliminated the option of hiring construction firms in the capacity of "at risk."
This avenue would have limited the liability the county would have been exposed to. Due to this recent change, the county will hard bid the construction firms after the design phase has been completed. Judge Nelson says the next challenge will be to relocate the personnel at the Blytheville courthouse to the ANC-Burdette Center.
Mississippi County held a special election this past February for voters to approve or oppose a bond issue in the amount of $18,100,000. The bond issue passed with 72 percent of residents voting in favor. This bond issue finances the renovation of both the Blytheville and Osceola courthouses, as well as construct a 17,390 square foot addition to the Blytheville courthouse. One hundred years ago, the county judge and commissioners began planning the construction of the Blytheville building in 1919. The Osceola courthouse is the county seat and 7 years older.