Washington Co., VA Board of Supervisors holds first public input meeting on the future of county courthouse

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Va. (WJHL)- Three options are on the table for the future of Washington County, Virginia’s Courthouse.

The three options include: renovating the existing building, constructing a brand new building at a different location, or transforming the former Kmart property off Interstate 81’s exit 17 in Abingdon.

A short term renovation of the current building and constructing a new courthouse at a later date would cost $91 million. Constructing a new courthouse at a different location would cost $57 million and renovating the former Kmart will cost cost $43 million.

Saul Hernandez, Chairman of the Washington Co., VA Board of Supervisors, says there are many issues with the current courthouse, including parking, space, and security concerns. Many in attendance agreed with those concerns.

“We discussed tonight there are 75 parking spaces for 77 employees so there is no where for anybody else to go,” Janet Wooline of Abingdon.

“I think the option for building a new one is the one I prefer,” said Kristina Morris of Abingdon. “I want us to build a building that fits the needs of the court for exactly what they need and so that we can build it so we can meet there needs now and potentially in ten years.”

Circuit Court Judge Sage Johnson says security is a huge issue. Just within the last year, two inmates have escaped in the process of transporting them to the courthouse.

“We had to give up our secure facility where we transport inmates from the jail to make office space,” Johnson. “As a result of that, we no longer have that space available to us to pull into a secure area within the courthouse.”

Once community feedback is reviewed, the board of supervisors will vote later this month on whether to include a public referendum on the November 2019 ballot.

A referendum would be required to build a new facility or renovate the former Kmart building.

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