ABERDEEN – U.S. District Court Chief Judge Sharion Aycock led a pre-construction update July 25 regarding the Thomas G. Abernethy Federal Building, which is slated to undergo improvements beginning in September or October to remedy a prolonged mold issue, increase energy-efficiency and provide for numerous upgrades.
The scope of the project is expected to be $12 million.
“When I say this is unprecedented, there have been so many partners coming to the table. This money doesn’t just fall out of the sky. At first, we thought it would take $1 million, but it will be an approximately $12 million project,” Aycock said. “We have money from [building owner] GSA [General Services Administration], TVA [Tennessee Valley Authority], the marshal’s service, the local court, the 5th Circuit [Court of Appeals] and the AO [Administrative Office of U.S. Courts]. I can’t thank everyone enough.”
Since the building was vacated months ago, some federal civil hearings have been moved to the Thad Cochran U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Aberdeen, and criminal cases were moved to Oxford. Judges’ offices were moved to the Gilmore Foundation in Amory.
Since December 2017, several entities have worked in cooperation to plan for the federal building’s improvements.
The timeline stated during last week’s meeting indicated the main part of the project will be complete during the fall or winter of 2020, additional projects will be complete in late 2020 or early 2021, and court officials will be able to relocate back to the building in spring 2021 after all the furniture installation is complete.
TVA has contracted with the contractor, and the design review drawings are complete. Schneider Electric is the project’s general contractor.
Monroe County District 5 Supervisor Hosea Bogan and Mississippi District 7 Sen. Hob Bryan both stressed interest for local contractors to be included in the renovation. TVA Project Manager Randy Summers said that dialogue has been expressed and he is unsure of which subcontractors will be used.
Bryan asked if there is a similar concern for mold issues in the Aberdeen Post Office, and it was stated the entire building would be addressed in the renovation process.
Much of the work will be done after-hours. The scope of work includes replacing carpet, ceiling tiles, moving walls, updating courtroom technology, upgrades to security and fire safety, changing lighting to LED bulbs, electric system improvements and work with air handler, chiller and boiler plant replacement and ductwork.
“You can walk the streets of Aberdeen, and literally people come up to me and thank me for fighting to keep the court in Aberdeen and in Monroe County,” Aycock said.