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Capital Project Ordinance approved

WINTON – The financial tool necessary to move forward with building a new courthouse here is now in place.

During Monday’s meeting of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners, approval was given to a Capital Project Ordinance.

That legal document gives the county the green light to move forward with securing funds for the project, one estimated at $7,860,831. It also allows the county to formally enter into a contract with Ware Bonsall to serve as architects for the new facility.

Ware Bonsall was chosen by the commissioners during their September meeting.

Hertford County Manager Loria Williams said the $7.86 million was a cost estimate.

“Before we can legally expend money, even in the design phase, we must have a Capital Project Ordinance,” Williams noted. “It allows us to legally set aside a project and all costs associated with it. The amount can be amended once the actual (construction) bids are in hand.”

She went on to break down the cost estimates by item:

Construction – $6,496,000

Furnishings and Equipment – $487,200

Geotechnical Survey – $10,000

Topographical Survey – $5,000

Materials/Testing/Special Inspections – $40,600

Contingency – $362,321

Williams said the only true cost at this time is the architect’s contact ($459,710). The commissioners, at Monday’s meeting, agreed to that cost.

She pointed out that the Ware Bonsall contract was all inclusive – schematic design and design development phases, all required construction permits, zoning and code enforcement with the Town of Winton, preparation of the construction bid documents (including legal advertising), follow-up administrative chores after the bids are in and watching over the contractor hired to perform the work until they are finished.

“Their contact is turn-key, from beginning to end,” Williams said.

As far as securing funds for the project, Williams said there were two possible revenue streams – USDA Rural Development and banks with a possible combination of both.

“The USDA financing depends on the availability of funds from that source,” she noted. “The financing aspect also depends on what the LGC (Local Government Commission) says about a project of this size.”

The new Judicial Center (courthouse) will be built across the street, in a dirt parking lot owned by the county, from the current courthouse.

The 40,600 square-foot, two-story facility will house two courtrooms and office space for the Clerk of Court, Register of Deeds, Probation and Parole, District Attorney and Child Support Enforcement. The latter office space was recently added to the plans.

Now that the architectural contract is in place, the next step in the process calls for a schematic design phase which would take five weeks followed by a one week review for Hertford County officials.

The design phase would begin next and take approximately 10 weeks, with local officials having a week to review.

For the next 17 weeks, Ware Bonsall would start the construction document phase and then the final review by the board would take place for the next four weeks.

After that, the new judicial center would go out to bid and the process of seeking permits and getting LGC approval would take place. That is expected to take approximately 13 weeks.

The construction phase of the project would then take approximately 69 weeks and the new facility could be occupied within eight weeks after that.

If all phases of the project remain true to form, the new Judicial Center could possibly be open in two and one-half years.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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