By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — New activity is taking place at the former DHS (Department of Human Services) building in southwest Newkirk, as the Kay County District Attorney’s office has vacated the Kay County Courthouse, and will soon be joined by the Kay County Court Clerk’s office in the coming weeks.
The move comes as the offices prepare for the upcoming renovations planned to start this fall, and the remaining offices get ready to move into the Courthouse Annex and OSU Extension building.
Ground was broken on the new facilities Aug. 11, 2020.
District Attorney Brian Hermanson’s office began the movement the week of June 15, and offices were open to the public June 28. They had to make new adjustments, but found it a fitting location.
“We put up a few walls, but it is pretty much the way it was before,” Hermanson said.
The building closed due to a reorganization of the DHS.
“They had budget cuts, and they felt (the employees) needed to work from home,” Hermanson said. “It turned out the perfect time for us; it turned out real well.”
The Court Clerk’s office will soon be joining them.
“We will officially move July 28 – 30, and reopen Aug. 2,” Kay County Court Clerk Marilee Thornton said. “Right now, we’re trying to keep ourselves organized, and work on getting things moved over there.”
The DA and Court Clerk offices will be able to take advantage of existing courtrooms in the DHS building for court proceedings, although some changes will have to be made.
“The DHS (building) has three courtrooms in it, but the DHS building will not fit all trials,” Hermanson said.
All other court operations, however, will continue as usual, with some adjustments.
“We’re going to do exactly what we do; we’re still going to have our dockets and try our cases, but we’re going to have smaller dockets because of the parking situation,” Thornton said. “We have an obligation to get these cases dealt with, and our biggest concern is the parking, and the effect it’s going to have in the neighborhood.”
The remaining offices, including County Clerk, Assessor, Treasurer, Election Board and OSU Extension, plan to move into their new facilities in August.
“We hope to move out the first week in August, if all goes well. We’re having meetings to prepare for that,” said Extension Director Brenda Medlock.
The new annex and Extension buildings will provide much-needed room for all offices.
“We’re going to have more room for our voting machines, and everything will be in one location,” said Election Board Secretary Carol Leaming. “It should make everything run smoother on Election night.
The Courthouse renovations will take place over about 14 – 16 months, starting in the fall, and will address a variety of factors, including adding new courtrooms, attorney-client meeting rooms, central heat and air problems and electrical and plumbing problems.
The DA and Court Clerk offices will move back into the Kay County Courthouse following the completion of the project.
“It’ll be a tough year being in the smaller building, but we are excited, and we appreciate the citizens of Kay County letting us get this done,” Thornton said.