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Courthouse renovations

HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE: The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors received a grant to conduct more work to make the county courthouse ADA compliant. Photo by Jeremy Pittari

HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE: The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors received a grant to conduct more work to make the county courthouse ADA compliant.
Photo by Jeremy Pittari

Last week the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors approved a maintenance plan to conduct proposed Americans with Disabilities Act compliance upgrades to the Pearl River County courthouse.

In May, Jason Hicks with Sample & Hicks Associates, applied for a $600,000 community development block grant on behalf of the county.

According to Mississippi.org, a CDBG grant provides funding for publicly owned structures. Drainage systems, water and sewer systems, roads, bridges, rail spurs and the rehabilitation and expansion of buildings are examples of eligible projects.

Hicks said his Flowood based firm handles the county’s grant writing and grant administration if funded.

The block grant requires a 50/50 match, so every dollar in the grant the county has to match, County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said.

The grant will provide funding for about 88 ADA improvements to the courthouse, Lumpkin said. Some of the enhancements will be made to the bathrooms and in the courtroom.

“The witness stand in the courtroom has three steps and is elevated,” Lumpkin said. “It needs to be modified to provide wheelchair access.”

Hicks told the board at last Wednesday’s meeting that the county ranked high enough to warrant a site visit from the Mississippi Development Authority to review proposed renovations listed in the county’s grant application.

Tracey Giles is with MDA’s Community Services Division and she told the board that if the site visit goes well, a recommendation for funding will be made after September 25. A site visit does not guarantee funding.

“It was a good sign that we did meet the threshold to qualify for a site visit and possible funding,” Lumpkin said.

A final list of ADA modifications will be created if the grant is awarded, Lumpkin said. An architect will be brought in to examine construction needs.

The courthouse is a historical landmark, Hicks said, therefore the architect’s proposed plans will be sent to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for approval.

“After their approval,” Hicks said. “We will be ready to entertain bids for construction.”

Giles acquired board approval of a required maintenance plan.

“This is a plan to guarantee the improvements will be maintained,” Giles said at the meeting.

Hicks said the county already has an obligation to maintain the courthouse and the funds for maintenance are budgeted every year.