Courthouse awaits engineer’s study

By Russell Hood
The Webster Progress-Times

A structural engineer is to determine whether or not the Webster
County courthouse can be restored from the shell remaining after it
burned in January.

The Board of Supervisors voted Monday to contract with professional
engineer Mark Watson of Shannon to provide structural evaluation of
the building. He will conduct the work on an hourly basis, not to
exceed $11,800.

The county is also contracting with Belinda Stewart Architects to
provide architectural review and cost estimating to determine the
feasibility of restoration of the existing structure. That contract
will be for a flat fee of $5,500

Supervisors instructed board attorney Buchanan Meek Jr. to write a
letter to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History
requesting a Community Heritage Preservation Grant to fund the study
and analysis of the building.

reimburse the county for the work.
“The money is there; the county just has to request it,” Stewart told
the board. She said MDAH would pay for 80 percent of the cost. Debris
removal could qualify toward the county’s match.

“You’ll have to do this (structural analysis) anyway before MDAH
issues a demolition permit,” Stewart said.

Also during the meeting, board President Pat Cummings called Mingo
Tingle, chief of MDAH Technical Services. Tingle confirmed that if it
is determined that the building cannot be saved and needs to come
down, MDAH would first have to issue the county a permit to demolish
it since it is a Mississippi Landmark.

Stewart said the fee for her firm’s work on the project will be tied
to assistance its provides the Golden Triangle Planning and
Development District in preparing a county grant application. The
board voted April 15 to apply for a Community Development Block Grant
to make the existing courthouse handicap accessible if it is restored.

On Monday, supervisors passed a resolution authorizing the GTPDD to
prepare and submit the CDBG application for the county. A related
public hearing is set for 10 a.m. May 9.

The board also voted to pay a $1,380 invoice from Servpro for water
cleanup services rendered after the courthouse burned.

The county’s insurance adjuster, Patrick Blankenship, was unable to
attend Monday’s board meeting as planned because of a death in the
family. He is tentatively set to be at the next meeting of the board
on Tuesday.