Supervisors hold groundbreaking ceremony on new annex building
The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors celebrated the groundbreaking for the new court house annex building in Poplarville. The new two-story building will be approximately 40,000 square feet and will bring the county offices in the area to a more concise location which will be a better avenue of serving the public when services are needed as well as a much more efficient and safe environment for the county’s employees.
Construction is estimated to take about 15 months and cost around $8 million dollars. The board of supervisors and county administration were able to setup the building of the annex without raising taxes, a move that pundits said could not be done.
Board President and District 5 Supervisor said, “To get this project done, it’s been a tug-of-war for years. For me personally, this has been a twelve year process since coming on the board and I’m proud of how we as supervisors have come together to make it happen. We finally did it.”
Smith said there are still people in the county who don’t agree with this project. He added, “People still debate, you all shouldn’t be building this or that, but if you go look at our (current) buildings and how deplorable they are for our employees. People we serve that pay taxes see it. I brought my mother-in-law to the tax office to take care of some business after my father-in-law passed away, and she told me this place is terrible and she was one of the ones that didn’t support it, but now she sees what we are looking at up here (Poplarville).”
Image provided by Landry, Lewis, and Germany Architects
Smith, when asking Board Vice-President and District 3 Supervisor Hudson Holliday, to say a few words, said he and Holliday had many arguments.
“We almost came to blows over this, but now I’m proud we all came to agreement and are going to get it done. I’m excited for everyone, our court systems, and it’s just a good day for Pearl River County,” Smith said.
Holliday reflected on the timing of this historical event.
“There’s an old saying that when people don’t have a vision, they perish. I think it’s ironic that one hundred years ago this year, our forefathers stood right over there and dedicated a new courthouse. When you look at that monstrosity (current courthouse), they stepped out and they built that for us and we’ve used it and it’s been a great courthouse,” Holliday stated. “I want to echo what Sandy Kane said that for the board to come together, I’m very proud of what we’ve decided to do. There are, and will always be, people who criticize the supervisors, but leadership does what needs to be done and I’m proud of what the board. We don’t have to raise taxes, and a lot of people want to know what’s going to happen with the old courthouse? Every room in it is being used. This county is growing and this annex positions us for that.”
District 1 Supervisor Donald Hart added, “We appreciate the support of the community. Hopefully the naysayers will be silenced in light of what we are doing. This is something that is really needed. If you look at some of those buildings, like the one the tax department is in, they are in really bad shape. This is a leap of faith, but it’s a much needed leap of faith.”
County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin echoed what the Supervisors said.
“It’s been a long day coming and a lot of people said we couldn’t do this without raising taxes. It has taken a lot of planning and a lot effort, but we were able to do it (not raise taxes). The debt service for the county with this project is going to remain the same and in a couple of years, it will actually be less that what we have been paying the last several years. Everything in Poplarville will now be consolidated with the old courthouse, and when this is complete, citizens will not have to go over five acres to get the services they need. It’s monumental and it’s going to be great for the citizens of this county.”
Judge Prentiss Harrell of the 15th Circuit Court added his thanks to the board.
“I want to applaud the courage and commitment of this board to make this decision. I commend them for this great day in the history of Pearl River County for the betterment of services to the citizens and employees.