TEXARKANA, Ark. — Many Miller County offices will be getting a temporary home starting today.
After spending Monday evening touring three buildings on this side of town, Miller County Judge Cathy H. Harrison decided to place five of county courthouse's first floor offices inside the Landmark building for possibly as long as 18 months.
Harrison said Monday evening that a combination of affordability and ample space provided by the building, prompted her decision. She said that because this was an emergency, they could go ahead and act on this.
In the wake of a weather induced water pipe burst drenching Miller County courthouse offices Saturday, county officials held an emergency Budget and Finance Committee meeting Monday afternoon at the Miller County Correctional Center courtroom to determine the best course of action.
Harrison kicked off the hour-long meeting by informing the gathering that the county could receive potentially as much as $15 million worth of insurance for the water damage.
Miller County Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Ernest Pender said about $100,000 of those funds could be used for temporary office staff relocation efforts — which is currently the most pressing need. He added that about $2 million of the insurance funds could also be used to restore and save courthouse content, such a paper records that may have been damaged by the water.
Several elected county officials said that most of their office furniture and computerized equipment came through intact.
However, the meeting's main focus was about finding temporary office space, a conversation that eventually centered on available space at either the Landmark Building, situated at East Broad and North State Line Avenue and the vacant Regions Bank building, about two blocks northeast of the Landmark Building.
Also under consider was a building referred to as the Abernathy Building, off U.S. Highway 82, at 1220 Jim Walter Drive.
Miller County Tax Assessor Nancy Herron also suggested that a vacant dry cleaners store on Hazel Street might be a possibility, although it wouldn't accommodate many other county offices
The committee learned during the meeting that the Regions Bank Building, constructed in 1971, had 42,000 available square feet, in addition to the possibility that it might also be more Internet hook-up friendly.
Miller County Tax Collector Laura Bates said she would be prepared to move into either the Regions Bank or the Landmark Building
Speaking from a public service standpoint, Pender said it would make better sense for all the county government offices to be generally located in the same place. After the decision was finalized, Pender provided some additional details.
"We have made the decision to move our offices to the 2nd floor of the Landmark Building. Except perhaps the tax collector's office, she's going to be on the first floor just inside the door," he said. "It's still up in the air whether the judge will be in there or not, she has other space available to her. All the rest of the county offices: tax collector, tax assessor, county clerk, are all going to be moving to the Landmark Building. It just looked like the best deal for the money."
Eight Judicial Circuit Judge Brent Haltom said that he's been assigned to the Landmark Building in the past and added that it has never been a problem.
Landmark Building's owner David Potter said that there's room on both the building's second and third floors to accommodate the county's government staff — in addition to the county's judicial staff.
"I'm pleased with the decision and we will do everything we can to assist the county in whatever they need to try to help make this transition easy," Potter said.