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Home News-Telegram News County officials begin migrating to new home; six departments moving to old Fidelity Express building

County officials begin migrating to new home; six departments moving to old Fidelity Express building

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A move to consolidate most Hopkins County elected offices in a more central location should be complete by the middle of July, County Judge Cletis Millsap said Friday. Over the next five weeks, the offices of six elected officials will be packed up and moved to 140 Jefferson St. The 20,000 square foot facility formerly known as the home of Fidelity Express will now be called the Hopkins County Courthouse Annex.

“This is all going to take place starting on June 25 and run through through July 15,” said Millsap. “Everyone’s telephone numbers will be the same. E-mail will be the same. Online payment systems will all be the same. All that will happen is we’ll move one day and be operational the next.

“And everything’s pretty well set.”

The first moves would come next Thursday, June 25. Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Ronny Glossup, Precinct 1 Constable Roger Maynard and Precinct 2 Constable Larry Argenbright will move from the current county annex on Main Street on the south side of the downtown square to the new facility. Also moving that day would be Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Yvonne King, whose office is currently on the back side of the Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office.

The next is scheduled on or around the 4th of July weekend, when Hopkins County Attorney Dusty Hyde-Rabe’s will move from her current office, also on Main Street south of the courthouse square.

The last move will be around July 15, with Hopkins County Tax Assessor/Collector Debbie Pogue Jenkins shifting to the new annex.

They will join Hopkins County Clerk Debbie Shirley, whose office has already moved to Jefferson Street.

“People can pay their taxes and pick up their vehicle registration, and then right next door you can register to vote,” Millsap said. “It’s really nice what we’ve been able to do.”

Three other offices also previously moved to a different location on the property. An old drive-through facility (the building was originally constructed as a bank) was converted into office space for the county’s veterans service officer, the environmental enforcement office, and the game warden. The address as “Suite A” on the Jefferson Street property but actually faces College Street, Millsap said.

“It sits right across the street from the Sunday school classes at First Baptist Church, and the Presbyterian church is in the next block of College Street,” he said.

The district clerk county commissioners, county judge, county treasurer, the county auditor and the other judges —State District Judges Robert Newsom and Scott McDowell, and County Court-At-Law Judge Amy Smith — are all in the old courthouse. The county fire department and the sheriff’s office are the only county offices that won’t be located in the complex made up of the courthouse and annex.

“What we’ve done is we’ve accomplished our main goal of trying to put everybody together,” Millsap said. “We want people to be happy with our move because we think we can better serve the public.”

Another addition coming to the annex is an elections administrator, a duty that formerly fell to the tax assessor/collector. Millsap said the new office has been created, but an actual administrator has not been selected yet.

“We’ve got the office, we just haven’t appointed anyone,” he said. “We have it on the Commissioners Court meeting agenda for Monday.”

A special committee will choose the elections administrator. The Texas Election Code specifies that the county judge, tax-assessor collector and the chairmen of the county’s Democratic and Republican parties are members of the committee.

“The elections administrator will be in that annex, so if you want to register to vote, or if you want to change your voter registration, of if you have any questions about elections, the elections administrator will be located in an office in that building,” Millsap said.

The annex will also house two courtrooms.

“If Judge Amy Smith and I need to go down to hear any cases in the other facility, we can do so,” Millsap pointed out.

The moves have other advantages. For one, it saves about $45,000 in rent paid for spaces being leased by the county. Judge King’s move will free up more space at the sheriff’s office, as well. And the county can dispose of some property.

“Our intentions are to sell the building on the south side of the square on Main Street,” Millsap said.

Moving so many offices away from the square should also alleviate some of the downtown parking congestion. There are a number of paved parking areas on the old Fidelity property, and county officials plan to create a parking lot in the empty field on Jefferson Street, south of the sheriff’s office and across the street from the new annex.

“They can park there now,” MIllsap said. “The ground is sturdy enough that if they want to park there and walk across the street, they can do that.

For those with handicaps, appropriate parking spots are located on the west side of the main building.

Millsap also said there will probably be some type of open house in the near future to introduce the public to the new office space.

“When everybody gets moved in, we’re going to invite the Chamber of Commerce to have a mixer,” Millsap said. “And we’ll want everybody to come to that.”

 

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