By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — The Kay County Board of Commissioners has announced a groundbreaking date for the long-awaited Courthouse Annex project, to be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 11 at the Courthouse Square.
County leaders are happy to see the project moving forward.
“It’s a very exciting time to see the plans come to fruition,” said Kay County District Attorney Brian Hermanson.
The Kay County Courthouse was constructed in 1925 -1926, and while it served the community well for many years, the aging structure, which is nearly 100 years old, has many problems that will be addressed by the project. Some of those problems include a leaking roof, electrical and plumbing problems, as well as a lack of space for the district court system.
“We can’t expand anymore. There is no room for (additional) courtrooms, there is no room for private conversations with clients,” said Kay County Court Clerk Marilee Thornton. “We just need to expand, and there is no room in the current floor plan to do that.”
To make room to expand the court system, all other county offices will be relocated to the Annex, leaving the Courthouse strictly for the court system. Current county offices will be renovated to make more space for the court system.
“We’ll have a total of four courtrooms, so each judge will have their own courtroom,” Thornton said. “There is going to be a lot more space for courtrooms and the district attorney’s office.”
Having a new building will also benefit the operation of the other county offices.
“After a long, anticipated wait, the Annex is going to become a reality,” said County Clerk Tammy Reese. “The Annex will accommodate the assessor, treasurer, Election Board and county clerk’s offices, as well as the Commissioner’s Courtroom, making it more convenient and accessible for citizens needing to do business in these offices.”
Additionally, it will allow more room for storage of county records, which have been kept since Kay County was organized.
“All records will be centrally located, and citizens doing research will not have to go to separate floors to search for needed records” Reese said. “The new office will also provide citizens additional space and workability within the office.”
The Kay County OSU Cooperative Extension office will have their own building adjacent to the Annex and Courthouse, which will benefit them by offering bigger office spaces, as well as conference rooms for Extension meetings and a kitchen and other facilities for various programs.
They currently store materials offsite.
“It’ll give us space to store our items, do workshops and have a meeting place for our youth in the county, and have a (meeting) place for 4-H, OHCE and agriculture,” said Kay County Extension Director Brenda Medlock.
The facility will also be available for citizens outside the Extension office.
“Anybody that needs to use it in our program area can use it, and it will have an area that the groundskeepers staff can store their equipment, so it’ll be nice for everybody,” Medlock said.
The Board of County Commissioners has approved several bids to begin the construction of the Annex and Extension building, but work on the interior of the Courthouse is still ongoing.
“There are a few contracts they are negotiating on, but all the ones needed for the construction to start have been approved,” Hermanson said.
County leaders are happy to see the construction date approaching, and look forward to new facilities that will improve county operations.
“We’re glad they have a date get it started, and excited to see the new building coming up,” Medlock said.
Reese added, “We want to thank the citizens of Kay County for making this project possible.”