WINNSBORO — Interim Fairfield County Administrator Milton Pope recently informed council that the HON building is an available site for the Fairfield County Courthouse’s relocation.
Near the end of February, the ad-hoc committee was tasked with finding possible options for relocation. During that meeting, council reviewed information county staff had regarding renovations of the courthouse.
Major repairs that cannot be accomplished without the dislocation of all personnel are needed.
The courthouse has several remodeling projects scheduled to repair the electrical system, as well as clean up the buildup of mold and mildew.
Deputy Administrator Davis Anderson said the air conditioning system has been the main culprit allowing mold to build.
“The system is not sufficient enough to keep the mold growth from growing in the courthouse,” he stated. “So, we’re trying to fix the situation before we get into hazardous work conditions.”
Anderson noted that the A/C system is not taking the moisture out of the air properly, which is causing the mold to build up.
Although it is only in the preliminary stages, the project is anticipated to take anywhere from 12 to 18 months.
Remodeling will not only include the HVAC system, but the electrical system as well. Since the courthouse is a historic building, the majority of the piping will need to be re-routed.
“It will be a pretty lengthy job and employees will not be able to work in the building,” Anderson stated.
The county prefers to save the courthouse because it is a Mills designed courthouse and an historic building.
Each department, totaling nearly 20 employees, would be relocated in the process.
The courthouse encompasses more than 9,340 square feet of offices including Clerk of Court, Tax Assessor, Auditor, Tax Collector, Treasurer, Public Defender and the court room with its associated offices.
The committee considered several expensive locations including the former Food Lion building.
However it was then suggested to look at the HON building, which is located on U.S. 321 North near Midlands Technical College.
The county owns the building, but has leased part of it to the S.C. State Emergency Preparedness Office.
After Council Chairman David Ferguson, Anderson and Pope met with the state’s staff, Pope was pleased that the county and state were able to work out a prospective plan to allow the courthouse to relocate to the HON site.
“They were very encouraging to us and we would be able to use the HON building as our relocation site,” Pope told council during the March 24 regular meeting. “The move there should be the most efficient and cost saving way to move forward on this project.”
The committee would still need to reconvene to accept that information and then present it to the full council for consideration before it is officially approved.
Any changes in the court system have to be approved through court administration and South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal.
Pope said the circuit judge and clerk would be intimately involved in the process. Pope also noted that the HON building should be able to handle holding court as well.
“Based upon the space we have at the HON building, it could self sustain court,” he stated. “We could literally set the courthouse in the space that is available.”
With 35,000 square feet available at the HON building, Pope was also hopeful that council would move forward with the project so that the county would have some retro use for the space afterwards.
“It really is a workable space that is available there assuming council moves forward with this,” he said.
Ferguson echoed Pope’s belief.
“It certainly seems like this is the most cost efficient way to go,” Ferguson said.
The engineer’s projected cost for the remodeling of the Fairfield County Courthouse is $1,364,225.00 and Davis & Floyd have been procured for the project, according to county staff.