Commissioners OK immediate move of county court system

You may have seen it for yourself: the peeling paint, the leaking and crumbling ceilings inside the Massac County, Illinois, Courthouse.

Area judges call it a health hazard, and Tuesday they convinced county commissioners to approve a temporary move for the court system to a building down the street.

An old bank will soon host Massac County’s court system. County commissioners voted 3-0 Tuesday morning to move the probation and circuit judge’s staff over immediately after pleas from judges James Williamson and Joe Jackson.

"The courtrooms are not usable, the probation space is not usable and they need to be moved,” said Jackson.

In some parts of the courthouse, you won’t be hard pressed to find pieces of the ceiling on the floor.

"It’s an emergency, and we need immediate action," Jackson said.

Commissioners say the current courthouse building is in rough shape, changes have to be made and not just to the courtrooms.

"Well, our local courtroom has fallen in to deterioration because of many years of neglect and lack of maintenance," said Massac County Commissioner Jeff Weber.

"I agree. The situation is bad," said Massac County Commissioner Jayson Farmer.

Bringing the commissioners on a spontaneous tour of the county-owned former Banterra Bank building in town, they approved a temporary nine-month emergency relocation at the expense of the circuit court system.

The county won’t pay for the temporary move, but will still have to renovate the current building.

"Repair is needed here, and repairs have got to be made or whatever has to happen. It’s not usable,” Jackson said.

The judges say the move is a wake-up call to repair the courthouse or move permanently.

Two weeks ago, voters rejected a sales tax increase that would have paid for renovations to the courthouse.

County commissioners will now look at moving the state’s attorney’s office and potentially others to the old Banterra Bank building at next week’s meeting.

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