Board members search for architect to build new courthouse - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Board members search for architect to build new courthouse

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BENTON (WSIL) -- In less than two weeks, shoppers will need to pay more when buying anything in Franklin County. 

A one percent sales tax increase will begin July 1. 

This means that for every $100 consumers spend on goods in Franklin County, $1 goes to the county.

Voters approved the increase in April to pay for building a new courthouse. 

The current courthouse is nearly 150 years old and has crumbling walls, cracked ceilings and a tiny elevator. 

Currently there is no construction equipment, workers or wrecking balls outside the courthouse.

Franklin County Board members said although residents can't see any progress outside of the building, decisions are being made and the ball is rolling on a new courthouse. 

Franklin County Board Chairman Randall Crocker said the board is ready to take the next steps to start the demolition and construction process. 

"The first and the next move will be hiring an architect," Crocker said. 

Board members agreed during Tuesday night's meeting to start advertising for the architect position. 

"I would like to see to some degree, some refurbishing of the old courthouse," Crocker said. 

The new courthouse has a price tag of $18 million and is expected to take two years to complete. 

"We are planning on keeping certain aspects of it (current courthouse) and incorporating them somehow in the new courthouse," Crocker said. 

Crocker said while members are in the process of looking for an architect, they are also working on a strategy for people who visit the courthouse. 

"We are trying to develop some better parking in and around the downtown area," Crocker said. 

Crocker said they are looking at buying lots around the square to add parking. 

Before residents in Franklin County see any demolition to the current courthouse, renovations inside the Campbell Building have to begin. 

Crocker said offices from inside the courthouse will be moved into the Campbell building during the demolition and construction of the courthouse. 

If the renovations of the Campbell building are complete by November, Crocker said they can expect to see demolition of the courthouse to start by the end of the year. 

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