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Grand jury reports Lauderdale County Courthouse is “unsafe”

Poor ventilation, mold, and a lack of security are major problems affecting the Lauderdale County Courthouse. A grand jury has released a report saying the building has outlived its usefulness.

“Lawyers, I guess we know this better, because we have to at times go to other districts. We see the courthouses in those districts. They’re all modern, beautiful, and clean. Here we are in Lauderdale County, which we’re all deeply proud of, but we’re just not showing it,” said Assistant District Attorney Lisa Howell.

The grand jury recommends that staff be relocated and that the courthouse be used only as a historic site.

“You could use it for all kinds of things,” said Howell.

One idea is to turn the courthouse into an archives building. The report cited the courthouse was “unsafe,” “unsanitary,” and too small –unacceptable conditions for employees and citizens.

“The jail was on the fourth floor. When inmates were housed there, they would clog the toilets or turn water on. Water would go all down into first, second, and third floor. With ventilation, most of the windows cannot be opened because they may fall out,” said Howell.

The courthouse has only one medal detector. It’s said to be unsafe due to the proximity by which legal personnel, inmates, and citizens must pass each other. The grand jury says the board of supervisors should prioritize relocating employees and should make every effort to obtain the finances needed for a new courthouse.

“We are applauding the board of supervisors. We are so grateful for them. They’re going out there and saying ‘we want to do what’s best for our county, that’s what we were elected to do. They have to look at the money estimates. They’ve got to look at what the public wants, what’s best for our community and make the best decision,” said Howell.

Building a new courthouse or refurbishing the current one is estimated to cost around $40 million.


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