County finalizes purchase of Fidelity Express building

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

May 2, 2007 - The Hopkins County district and county clerk's offices will be relocated to what is now the Fidelity Express building at 128 Jefferson St., although they won't be moving into the facility anytime soon.

Staff Photo by Angela Pitts

Hopkins County Judge Cletis Milsap (2nd from right) signs the papers to officially make the Fidelity Express building the new home for the district and county clerk's offices. Also pictured (left to right) are Pat Gerald and Kalya Price with Professional Land Title Company, and Pat Odom with Fidelity Express.

Officials signed paperwork Tuesday which granted the property to the county, including both main buildings, for $1.3 million. Fidelity Express will lease the facilities from the county until the company’s new building on Main Street, across from Grocery Supply Co., is complete.

The target date for that is January or February, but Pat Odom, who was responsible for pitching the sale of Fidelity's Jefferson Street digs to the county, is optimistic the project will be completed ahead of schedule.

When it became apparent that Fidelity Express was outgrowing their building, company officials sought a new location for expansion. When they obtained the land by GSC, Odom, who was aware the county had been looking at building or buying a facility for county offices, contacted County Judge Cletis Millsap to let the county have first refusal on the property. County officials toured the facility, and commissioners approved the purchase.

Certificates of obligation were sold for this part of the deal, as well as to pay for renovations, to the tune of just under $3 million. That's quite a bit of savings to the county, as engineers who worked with the commissioners estimated it would cost $16 million to $25 million to build what they needed, County Attorney Dusty Rabe noted.

The Fidelity Building already has secured entry and vaults. Millsap said that will be another savings to the county, particularly in the clerk's offices and storage facilities.

Other advantages to the facility are its proximity to the other county offices. It's just across the street from the lot south of the county jail, which will be paved and used for additional courthouse parking.

The Jefferson Street rear side entrance will also allow officers to walk inmates across the road and in through that entrance, and minimize inmates’ contact with the general public, as the facility should include holding areas.

The Fidelity building is also a short distance from Hopkins County Courthouse and annex buildings on the square.

The county and district clerk offices will be housed in one building, making sharing of files and information easier for their staff, as well as making them more conveniently located for the general public doing business there.

The second building on the Jefferson Street property will have room for two courts, which should ease some of the burden on the district, county and commissioners courtrooms.

The renovated Fidelity building should also provide space for attorney-client meetings and other sessions of that nature, according to Millsap.

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