Courthouse construction contract awarded

Published 5:18 pm Friday, March 25, 2022

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JACKSON – The new Northampton County Courthouse project is continuing to move forward now that the Board of Commissioners have awarded a construction contract at their meeting here on March 21.

Oakley Collier Architects, the firm who designed the project, solicited bids for construction. They received seven in total, and after reviewing each one, recommended the lowest bid which was from A.R. Chesson Construction Company in the amount of $10,775,500.

In recent years, A.R. Chesson Construction Company has worked on several projects in the Roanoke-Chowan area, including the new Ahoskie Elementary School, renovations at Central Middle School in Gates County, and the current courthouse in Hertford County.

Board Attorney Scott McKellar presented the resolution to award the construction contract to the board, noting that the bid is in compliance with the project specifications.

Commissioner Nicole Boone motioned to approve the resolution, and Commissioner Kelvin Edwards seconded. The vote was unanimously in favor.

Prior to the resolution vote, the commissioners also unanimously agreed to adopt a capital project ordinance for the courthouse project, which is required by state law.

“The construction will probably start in the next 30 days,” stated Board Chair Charles Tyner, adding that the state-allocated funds for the project are already in the bank.

Those funds total $14 million, and were included as an allocation in the state budget that was approved by the state legislature and governor late last year.

In Dec. 2021, the commissioners agreed to purchase the land for the new courthouse. The 10-acre parcel is located on Jefferson Street (Highway 158) in Jackson, just east of the State Employees Credit Union building and within the town limits. The final purchase price for the land was $621,050 after a negotiated reduction from the original $650,000.

The money was paid from the county’s Fund Balance at the time, but is included to be reimbursed as a part of the $14 million allocation.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the project on Dec. 17.

The conditions of Northampton County’s current courthouse, which has been in use since 1858, have long been a topic of concern, with structural and safety/security issues at the forefront of that discussion.

The new courthouse will be a two-story 27,182 square foot facility. The building will contain secure entrances and a secure elevator along with different offices, a multipurpose room, two courtrooms (able to seat 160 people each), and more. It is estimated that the construction should take 18 months to complete.

Later during the March 21 meeting, Tyner announced that the county will also receive federal funds in the amount of $5 million to be used to add an annex to the new courthouse. Once complete, that annex will house the county’s tax department, Register of Deeds, and the county manager/other administration offices. The vacated buildings left after the move will then be utilized for expansion of the Sheriff’s office and the health department.