Future county construction, build for long-term

Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 17, 2016

Projects to renovate the county courthouse in Poplarville are underway to increase handicap accessibility to one of the vital services in Pearl River County.

Restroom renovations, wheelchair accessible courtroom seating, ramps and easy to open doors are all being installed at the historic courthouse to bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This process has taken over five years just to get the work underway. While there were some measures already in place to make this hub of county government accessible, some people with disabilities still require assistance when visiting the facility.

Though the ADA was enacted in 1990 and the courthouse was built at least 100 years prior, these adaptations should have been made much sooner to ensure equal access for all Pearl River County residents.

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Even though this $1.2 million project is nearing completion, other county buildings still present the same obstacles for those with disabilities. County annexes and other facilities lack a stamp of approval from the ADA. Getting them up to code shouldn’t be another five-year process.

With the purchase of two lots that border the county courthouse on the north and south sides, it’s possible for the county to construct two annexes that would provide additional space, while keeping government buildings centrally located in our county seat.

Building new facilities from the ground up would allow precautions to be taken and forethought about future expansion to be included. Any massive expense, like the potential annex projects, must be carefully planned for the construction of a long-term building. Courtrooms and government facilities have to be able to adapt for a variety of functions today and in the future.

Modern technology is also going to play a large role in the design and function of a new courtroom. Anything built in the future needs to be done with all disabled Pearl River County residents in mind, and to preserve the history of our community while preparing for the future.