Commissioners vote to keep Fidelity Express building
By PATTI SELLS, News-Telegram Feature Writer
July 14, 2008 - Democracy was at its best this morning during Hopkins County Commissioners Court proceedings at the county courthouse, as elected officials disagreed on what to do with the Fidelity Express building purchased in 2007 to house county offices.
A plan to sell the building was tabled during a May 27 meeting of the court as Precinct 1 Commissioner Beth Wisenbaker expressed her vision of one building housing county government offices, and made a proposal to set up workshops to discuss options to expand county office space with new construction.
This morning, Wisenbaker made a motion to bring the plan from the table, and followed with a motion to sell the old Fidelity facility at 128 Jefferson St., saying her strategy would allow the county to sell all the old buildings currently owned by the county and place them back on the tax rolls rather than spend money unwisely on another old building.
A second motion from Precinct 2 Commissioner Burke Bullock brought the plan from the table. However, Wisenbaker's motion to sell was denied due to the lack of a second.
A motion for the county to keep the Fidelity Express building was made by Precinct 3 Commissioner Don Patterson, seconded by Danny Evans of Precinct 4, followed by a 3 to 1 vote to keep the building.
The topic then opened for discussion, with Patterson saying he respected Wisenbaker's views and hoped she could respect his.
"We decided to buy the Fidelity Express building because of its close proximity to the courthouse and its close proximity to the jail," he said. "I still believe its a good deal. The building is an asset to Hopkins County, and I believe we need to utilize its space."
Bullock said he shared Wisenbaker's vision of a one-location government center, but felt now was not the right time.
Evans, too, agreed that a central judicial system is a good idea, but reminded Wisenbaker that the whole court approved of the purchase of the Fidelity Express building in 2007. He also said that by law they are not even allowed to get new property within a three-year period of their decision.
"The Court made a sound decision," said Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap. "We all felt at the time [of the purchase] that the building was a godsend. We unanimously voted to purchase the building. It was a good deal for the county. It was a good deal for Fidelity Express. I still believe this is in the best interest of the county."
"You have five different people here with five different opinions on things sometimes," said Precinct 3 Commissioner Don Patterson.
Today's Court session was an example of democracy at its best, according to Wisenbaker.
"Sometimes we have disagreements and just have to agree to disagree," said Wisenbaker.