WINTON – After seven months worth of construction delays, the new Hertford County Courthouse and its adjacent Government Center should be in full operation by the end of the month.
The new buildings are located just off of US 158 west of Winton at 115 Justice Drive (Government Center), and 119 Justice Drive (Courthouse).
According to information shared by Assistant County Manager Ray Wiggins, the office files and personnel in the existing courthouse and the administrative offices, now situated in the building across from the courthouse on King Street, will begin to relocate to the new facilities on Monday, May 18.
Wiggins said the move timeline will cover a two week period through May 29, and if necessary extend through June 5 for completion of the office move.
“During the period of the move we will do our best to minimize service disruption and delays,” Wiggins said. “But there may be temporary office closings and or reduced services provided by departments and agencies that will be relocating to the new buildings. We appreciate citizen’s patience as we complete the relocation.”
County Manager Loria Williams informed the Commissioners at their May 4 meeting that the final steps preceding the relocation are underway.
“The new furniture has arrived for our new facilities; the landscaping there is moving along on schedule and the parking lots have been paved,” she stated. “We have completed our final punch list for the Government Center and all technical issues have been resolved there. The final punch list for the new courthouse is on schedule to be completed by the end of the month.”
As far as the specific moving dates for each department, Wiggins said the Clerk of Court and the Courts will be the first to relocate, that coming on Monday and Tuesday, May 18-19. Meanwhile, the Clerk of Court records will be packed and prepared for the move on Thursday of this week. There will be no public access to those records until Wednesday, May 20 at the new courthouse, according to Shirley Johnson, Hertford County Clerk of Court.
On May 20-22, the Child Support Enforcement office and the office of District Attorney Valerie Asbell will relocate from their current home in Ahoskie to the new courthouse.
Also on May 22, Juvenile Services and Probation and Parole will move to the courthouse.
Following the Memorial Day holiday on May 25, the Hertford County Register of Deeds office will relocate to the new courthouse on May 26-28.
The final move is scheduled for May 28-29 and involves Government Center departments, to include the County Manager, Clerk to Board, Finance, Human Resources/Risk Management, Economic Development/Planning/Zoning, GIS/Land Records, Tax Assessor, and Tax Collector.
Should the public need services of any of the departments/agencies during dates of the move, they can contact the specific departments/agencies to determine if services will be available at the current offices while the move is in progress, or when the public can receive the services at the new offices. Those contact numbers are:
Clerk of Court and Courts (252) 358-7100;
Child Support Enforcement (252) 332-3109, ext. 611;
District Attorney (252) 209-6121;
Juvenile Services (252) 209-6177;
Probation/Parole (252) 358-7876;
Register of Deeds (252) 358-7805; and
Government Center departments (252) 358-7805.
At a later date, the Commissioners will authorize a public notice, one which legally moves the courthouse address from Winton to Justice Drive.
“There needs to be an official notification for the public, informing them that foreclosure property sales advertised for the courthouse steps will contain the new address for the courthouse. That notice has to be publicized 30 days in advance of the meeting at which you will consider designating the new address,” said Murfreesboro attorney Chuck Revelle, legal counsel to Hertford County local government.
The original “substantial completion” date of the two new facilities was Oct. 5, 2014. However, that deadline was missed, as were subsequent dates. The county’s contract with the project’s general contractor, A.R. Chesson Construction Company, contains a clause where the latter is responsible for up to $2,500 per day in liquidated damages for each day the project runs past its original completion date of Oct. 5.
The construction contract for the duel projects was awarded to Chesson on Dec. 4, 2012. It involves the courthouse, a three story facility encompassing 45,456 gross square feet. The Center will house all departments in the existing courthouse plus the District Attorney’s Office and Child Enforcement Office, both currently in Ahoskie.
Additionally, the project includes a single story Government Center (10,385 gross square feet) that will be built adjacent, but not connected, to the courthouse. That facility will house the county manager’s office, tax collection office, tax assessment office, land records, finance office and economic development (planning and zoning) office. In turn, that space in the current administration building in Winton will be used by Hertford County DSS.
Combined, the price tag of the two projects is $12.225 million.