Meridian Star

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February 17, 2013

Grand jury calls for action in courthouse

MERIDIAN —     Referring to the conditions inside the Lauderdale County Circuit Courtroom as deplorable, members of the Lauderdale County grand jury said in a report immediate action is requested in stopping the deteriorating conditions of the courtroom.

    The report, filed Monday in circuit court, said members of the grand jury were taken on an inspection tour of the courthouse by Circuit Court Judge Robert Bailey to view the courtroom on the second floor. What they saw seemed to surprise and anger the members of the grand jury.

    "This courtroom presents an immediate danger to one's health due to the deplorable physical condition," said the report. "This situation is not recent and has been going on for years."

    The members of the grand jury further stated strongly in the report, "Lawsuits could be brought against the county if this problem is not resolved."

    District 1 Supervisor and Lauderdale County Board of Supervisor President Hank Florey admitted Tuesday afternoon the courtroom was in bad shape.

    "I'm embarrassed by it as well," said Florey. "We, the board, are very aware of the problems with the courtroom and other parts of the Lauderdale County Courthouse and are trying to address those as best we can. The courtroom is our number one priority."

    Florey said the board has acquired the services of an architect to not only survey the courthouse but other county owned buildings as well such as the tourism board building and the Annex Building.

    "The architect specializes in restoring historical buildings," Florey said.

    The report went on to say the members of the grand jury were advised by courthouse personnel that the building was filthy and mold was growing on some of the walls. The grand jury members were told of personnel suffering from ailments and allergies associated with the dirty conditions and the mold.

    "We recommend the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors request an air quality check on this facility," the report said.

    The grand jury members also said they observed ceiling fans and projectors were layered in dust and that loose ceiling tiles were noted in the second and third floor courtrooms.

    The Lauderdale County Courthouse was built in 1905 and extensively re-modeled in 1939.

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