ABERDEEN, Miss. (WCBI) – Back in 2017, mold forced the closing of the Abernethy Federal Courthouse and displaced employees.
But a top to bottom renovation will soon be underway.
“It feels wonderful to be ready to get started with construction and finish it. I think we’re going to have a beautiful building. Tt’s going to be clean, nice, mold free,” said Chief Judge Sharion Aycock.
But getting to this point hasn’t been easy.
“First of all, just imagine that you vacate all employees from a courthouse building. Then, because of the mold, we had to bring in a vendor that could clean every single item down to the pencils books in the courthouse. Then, of course also the planning, the development, the examination of the systems. It’s truly been a daily project since about February 2018,” said Aycock.
To help pay for the $12 million project, the court partnered with the General Services Administration and Tennessee Valley Authority to get a utility energy service contract to replace mold infected HVAC systems and energy upgrades.
“To do this type of contract, anything you do you have to have an energy savings component to it. So, unfortunately, we couldn’t do some of the things we wanted to do, so we are using other funds for that. If we waited on other findings it would be years,” said John Bradley.
The cost of the project is high, but Aycock said it’s more practical than the alternative.
“So many people have inquired why not build a new courthouse? Well, we are building a courthouse on a shoestring in Greenville, and it’s a $40 million project. So no we could not build a new courthouse, so we just had to do the next best thing,” said Aycock.
The courthouse is a point of pride for Aberdeen, and Aycock said it was important to keep it there.
“We are in a rural part of the state we look for industry and economic development assets. Work that the courthouse generates the business, the comings and going, the salaries that are generated by court employees is one of Monroe County’s largest industry’s,” said Aycock.
Boots are expected to hit the ground in September or October. The energy project should take about a year to complete with move-in hopefully getting underway at the beginning of 2021.