County moves to fix Booneville courthouse
Logan County is spending close to $80,000 on renovations to the Booneville County Courthouse.
County Judge Ray Gack said the entire first floor and the courtroom floors have been replaced. Workers still need to put new floors in four more offices.
The county is also painting most of the offices.
Gack estimated that the county would finish the floors within the next 60 to 90 days. The work is time consuming because workers have to move all of the furniture out of the offices, replace the floors and then move all of the furniture back into the offices.
The county is also adding mini split heat and air units to each office. These will replace gas heaters and window air conditioning units.
The move will eliminate the county’s gas bill for the courthouse and significantly reduce the amount of electricity used in the courthouse.
It will “make everything more energy efficient… and it will eventually save taxpayers some money,” Gack said.
Gack doesn’t have an estimate of how much money the units will save the county. He will have to wait and gauge the amount after they’ve been in use for a few months.
Workers have to put in nine units at the Booneville Courthouse. They should have them done within the next few weeks.
The county has been working on the effort steadily for about a month.
Gack said he would also like to replace the rest of the windows in the courthouse, which are original to the building. The county has already replaced about half of the windows.
He’s applying for a grant with the Historic Preservation Society to put in new windows.
Booneville Mayor Jerry Wilkins said these changes have been needed for years.
“That will be very beneficial to us,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins applauded Gack’s effort in restoring the courthouse.
“Yes I think we’re going in the right direction,” Wilkins said.
The courthouse is limited in what updates the county can make because it’s on the National Historic Register, Wilkins said.
“You can’t just go in and completely remodel,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins said he’d still like to see updates to the handicap accessibility to the second floor.
It’s important that these remodels are made because Booneville residents have to regularly use the courthouse, Wilkins said.
The Booneville Courthouse was built in the late 1800s, Gack said. Usually the money for upkeep on the courthouses comes out of a fund to maintain county buildings. Last year Last year it was approximately $350,000, and this year it's at about $200,000.
Logan County has two courthouses. Of surrounding counties, both Franklin and Yell Counties have two courthouses.
Logan County has two because when the county was first established it was very difficult for people to traverse the entire county, so the founders created two courthouses.
“Geographically it’s a huge area to cover," Gack said.
The other courthouse, in Paris, received a remodel last year. In about May or June, the county updated the courthouse bell tower, Gack said.
The effort cost about $247,000. Workers removed the rotted wood from the tower, taking it back down to the frame, and installed new wood.
The county also replaced and painted the rotted wood on the edge of the building. The material cost about $300 to $400.
“It’s been a pretty major undertaking, but we get her all done, and it looks fantastic,”
The county also replaced all of the window air conditioning units and gas heaters with mini split heat and air units.
Paris Mayor Daniel Rogers said the updates to the courthouse were very much needed.
In 2019, while the city was putting Christmas lights on the courthouse some of the rotting wood fell off.
The city is trying to increase its tourism, and Rogers said he views the courthouse as a big part of that tourism effort.
“They've really done a great job keeping that courthouse looking beautiful,” Rogers said.