CATEGORY: Marshall County
MARSHALL COUNTY GETS OK TO UPGRADE
By Cynthia M. Jeffries
HOLLY SPRINGS - After several failed attempts and many rejection letters, Marshall County officials have finally received approval from the state's historical society to upgrade the more than 100-year-old county courthouse.
Earlier this month, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History approved a grant to reconstruct sections of the Holly Springs landmark.
"We have been back and forth so long trying to get them to approve a plan," said Marshall County Administrator Larry Hall.
"We finally got one that they like."
The county has been awarded a $100,000 grant to make the courthouse accessible to the handicapped; replace weathered exterior doors; repair chipped columns; upgrade the courtrooms; paint offices and hallways; and, repair the steps in the three-story building.
The courthouse is not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. A pending lawsuit filed on behalf of a wheelchair-bound Marshall County resident mandates that the courthouse, as well as other county and city buildings, come into compliance with the federal law.
In an attempt to do that, the space that is currently used for a men's bathroom on the first floor will be converted into an elevator lobby, basically because of its location near the steps, Hall said. A storage room on the first floor will then be converted into the men's bathroom.
Because the courthouse is a registered Mississippi landmark, any upgrades or improvements cannot alter the building too severely from its original 1872 appearance. For example, extra care will have to be given during the renovation to pieces of the building like the hand-turned bannisters that were created before the turn of the century.
A date has not been set for the work to begin, Hall said. Archive officials will make that determination, as well as hire those who will do the work.
In all, Marshall County sent 96 applications to the state requesting a total of $13 million dollars for various projects, including work on the Marshall County African-American Museum and several other city and county buildings.
The courthouse project was the only one to be approved.
The county applied for $241,000 for the courthouse work but was granted less than half that amount. County officials also voted in December to set aside $150,000 to make some of the improvements.
"We were going to do some of this regardless of whether we got the grant or not," Hall said.
Sitting atop the courthouse is an A.S. Hotchkiss weight-driven clock, one of only a few such clocks in the nation. The clock, which gongs on the hour and half-hour, can be heard from several miles away.