Winton supports county’s plan

Published 11:06 am Wednesday, February 8, 2012

WINTON – You have our blessings.

That was the message sent by the Winton Town Commissioners to their county colleagues just around the block.

At their regularly scheduled Monday night meeting, Winton’s elected leaders endorsed a plan introduced earlier that same day by Hertford County Commissioner Johnnie Ray Farmer in regards to the pending construction of the new county courthouse.

At Monday morning’s meeting of county officials, Farmer said there are two sites in the government center, both currently owned by the county, that may be suitable for construction – an area between the current courthouse and Sheriff’s Office and a vacant lot near the probation and parole office.

Farmer said the site between the existing courthouse and the Sheriff’s Office would require the permanent closure of one block of Taylor Street and moving the electrical, water and sewer lines currently in place along that portion of the street.

During the discussion about Farmer’s suggestion, Commission Chairman Curtis Freeman said there was a similar plan introduced in 1999 to use that exact area for construction of a new courthouse, but the county did not move forward with implementing that plan.

“It was just an idea at that time,” Freeman said at Monday morning’s meeting. “At that time we also ran into some problems with Winton about closing the street.”

Now, 13 years later, Winton officials are in support of the plan.

“We have no problem with closing Taylor Street for the purpose of building the new courthouse,” said Winton Mayor Tiffany Lewis, speaking on behalf of town officials during a telephone interview with this newspaper on Tuesday afternoon.

Lewis said the town’s support did come with one stipulation.

“All we ask is they (county officials) come to us and promise they will cover the costs of moving the water, sewer and electrical lines should they decide to use the street as part of the courthouse construction,” she said.

Lewis stated that after the issue was discussed Monday night, the Winton Commissioners were in full support (a 5-0 vote) of closing Taylor Street if needed.

The Hertford County Board of Commissioners are scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. on Thursday in a workshop to discuss their options of where to site the new courthouse. There are four possible locations – the Percy Bunch property near Murfreesboro, the Stuart Pierce property near Ahoskie, 25 acres of free land offered late last week by the co-owners of the Riversedge development just west of Winton and the county/town-owned property along Taylor Street.

Previously, the county commissioners had narrowed their list to one – the Bunch property – and has entered into an option agreement with him that may lead to the purchase of his land.

County leaders now appear to want to re-open discussions on the courthouse construction site.

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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