The Barbour County Commission will meet in a special called meeting on Monday, Aug. 5, at 4 p.m. at the Eufaula Courthouse.
According to the agenda issued by the Commissioner’s’ Office, several items of business will be tended to by the commission including a discussion of the relocation of the Eufaula Courthouse.
The agenda also calls for the commission to go into execute session following the public discussion to allow commissioners to privately talk about all possibilities for purchasing and/or financing property in Eufaula for the relocation of the Eufaula Courthouse.
The topic of the Eufaula Courthouse has been a touchy subject for years throughout the commission with many commissioners voicing their opinions on the subject strongly during meetings. Most recently, work done by Commissioner Frank Straughn, to check the availability of property for relocating the courthouse services required by state mandate for Eufaula and the feasibility of the building to hold all the required offices and courtrooms, was met with hostility during a meeting held in Clayton on July 9. Several Commissioners commented during that meeting that the whole procedure was not handled to their liking and vetoed any further talk about the issue during that meeting with a motion and second to table the issue.
The building in question that Straughn had approached the commission with during two previous meetings is an office complex located on Barbour Street in Eufaula, just a couple of blocks from the current building that houses the Eufaula Courthouse offices. The complex has two buildings on the lot, which according to Straughn would allow more than enough room for the services that have to be offered in Eufaula. The main building on the lot has four sections, with one part of the building actually unfinished. The second building on the property also has a portion that is unfinished on the inside, which would allow each to be finished specifically to fit whichever office is assigned to that section.
During the July commission meeting, each Judge for the county addressed commissioners along with the District Attorney, voicing favorable opinions of the proposed building on Barbour Street. Presiding Judge for the 3rd Judicial Circuit Burt Smithart told commissioners that the court system needs a better place to store court records and evidence that is being held for upcoming court cases, as well as a prisoner holding room for prisoners that are waiting to appear in before a judge and the proposed building could provide all that and more. District Judge Matt Horne agreed with Smithart, also pointing out that the current courthouse is not structurally safe. “It seems like you are throwing money at a bad problem,” Horne commented about the current courthouse.
District Attorney Ben Reeves gave his full support to moving courthouse and court services to a newer building. “After 30 years in that courthouse, it’s time to do something,” he told commissioners. “We are out of space.” Reeves told commissioners that the current Eufaula courthouse looks like a courthouse, but it just doesn’t work.