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Mayor’s move to downtown courthouse advances to next step

Design plans for the new location of the county mayor’s offices were approved in concept during the Aug. 20 meeting of the County-Owned Property Committee.
Mayor Dan Eldridge’s move to the second floor of the downtown courthouse from the adjacent County Office Building on Main Street will provide full use of that facility for the Washington County Archive.
Eldridge reviewed a diagram of the second floor with committee members, noting the space could accommodate offices of the in-house counsel, county paralegal and legal secretary.
“What John (Rambo) and I previously discussed is the attorney taking the rooms behind the courtroom,” Eldridge said, referring to the former judges’ offices.
The one restroom in that area, in addition to the jury box in the courtroom and the two restrooms behind it, will be removed according to the plans.
The jury box space will be walled off, and the room behind it will serve as offices for the mayor and his executive assistant.
The corresponding space in the hall on the opposite side of the courtroom, part of which once served as a jury room, would be used as shared conference and break rooms.
Public, handicapped-accessible restrooms would be installed in the main hall opposite the elevator.
According to Eldridge, minimal renovation work would be necessary to make the proposed changes.
“I think what you’ve got here is a very workable solution,” Commissioner Mark Ferguson said, asking where the director of budgets and accounts would be located.
Eldridge said the Bookkeeping and Purchasing departments could fit in the current Election Office.
“I have talked with Maybell (Stewart, administrator of elections), and they have no problem moving to the third floor,” he said.
Ferguson asked the timetable to have the county attorney’s offices ready to move in, and Eldridge estimated two to three weeks.
Cost for the renovations is included in the proposed budget, with no new money required.
Commissioner Doyle Cloyd moved to approve the plans in concept and authorize Eldridge to get bids for the cost. Commissioner Joe Sheffield seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
While the proposed renovations will not reduce the size of the county commission’s meeting chamber, a new design that would have commissioners seated in a semicircle with all members facing the audience will be presented soon for consideration.