Lincoln County residents will have the opportunity to give input on the future of the state’s fastest-growing county’s courthouse.
The Lincoln County Commission plans to form a community oversight board to study the current situation of and suggest any changes to the county’s courthouse, which has been reported to be out of space and riddled with bats, beetles, mold and weakening timber.
The commission voted Tuesday to create the committee, which would be a roughly 10-member board made up of residents, commissioners and court staff.
Commissioner Joel Arends brought the idea to the commission Tuesday, a few weeks after the public voted against a ballot item that would have allowed the county to take out up to a $50 million bond to build a public safety center and do repairs to the courthouse. Arends had previously called the decision to put the two projects together “shady” because each commissioner openly supported courthouse changes but the group was split on building a jail.
“We need to engage the public formally,” Arends said. “This is the county’s courthouse. This is the people’s courthouse.”
He proposed that the board consist of about four members of the public, who can either apply or be appointed by commissioners, two commissioners, a judge, a sheriff’s deputy, an attorney with the state’s attorneys office and a liaison for the Canton City Council.
More information on how to get involved will be available at a later date.
The courthouse won’t sustain the county’s growth long term, commissioners have said, and the building itself is old and would be hard to expand.
Second Judicial Circuit Presiding Judge Robin Houwman told commissioners in July that court staff sent her a note of concerns in the courthouse, such as bats flying through courtrooms, humid air curling papers, moldy walls, bat poop in the attic and once, an incident where enough Asian beetles fell from the ceiling that they clogged a printer.
Arends said Tuesday that studies on the building’s structural integrity and air quality found that there were “no mold concerns in any of the offices or space that people occupy,” and “nothing so significant that would affect structural integrity of the building.”
Email reporter Danielle Ferguson at [email protected] or follow on Twitter at @DaniFergs.