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Courthouse Annex nearly complete

The Pearl River County Courthouse Annex is nearly complete, but it may be a while before county officials are able to utilize the new space due to the pandemic.

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors approved allowing Board President Sandy Kane Smith to sign a substantial completion document for the County Courthouse Annex at Monday’s regular meeting.

The process to begin moving furniture into the annex is expected to start Wednesday and should take a week, said County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin. However, due to the pandemic and the ongoing shelter-in-place orders, it is unclear when county officials will be able to move their offices into the new building, said Lumpkin. Eventually, the Board hopes to hold a grand opening that allows the public to walk through the facility, but it is unclear when it will be possible to hold public events again.

Ground was broken on the annex in 2018, and planning for the project began in 2008, according to previous coverage.

The Annex will be the new home for the offices of the Chancery Clerk, the Tax Assessor, E911 permitting, district attorney and IT department. The annex also includes a chancery courtroom and a courtroom for the county and circuit court.

The Board approved a $55,804 payment to Hanco Corporation, the contractor on the project. After the payment, there will still be $362,509 left to pay the contractor on the $7.2 million contract. The Board also approved a payment of $1,015 to Landry Lewis Germany Architects, the final payment of the total $505,695 for the architecture firm’s work on the project.

The Board also approved the final $45,201 payment of a $90,402 contract for cabling in the County Courthouse Annex from In-Telecom, and approved purchasing hardware for an Ethernet routing switch for $10,892 for the annex from In-Telecom.

In a separate matter, the Board approved transferring the wastewater system at the Lenoir-Rowell Criminal Justice Center to the Pearl River Utility Authority. The Utility Authority is already operating the waste-water facility, said Lumpkin, but the permit was in the Board’s name. Now the permit will be in the Utility Authority’s name, making that entity responsible for the reports and permits required by the Department of Environmental Quality.

In a separate matter, county engineer Les Dungan told the Board that he plans to fly drones over the weir on the Pearl River near Walkiah Bluff to get an update on the weir’s condition. Dungan said the water level was still near 15 feet, and needs to be down to 10 feet before he can see what has happened with the structure.

Dungan is working with the Corps of Engineers to get appropriate permitting for the maintenance project planned for the weir. Acquiring easements needed to get repair materials and equipment to the weir is a challenge, because it is not a good time to meet landowners face to face and it is harder to earn their trust over the phone, said Dungan.

In a separate matter, the Board approved a request from Coast Electric to use county property as staging sites in the event of major storms in 2020. If there were a severe storm and Coast Electric needed to restore power in the county, it could use property west of the jail off Langnecker Road, the parking area west of the county fairgrounds or any county-owned property available. The property could be used for tent cities or material staging areas while restoring power.