Cape Girardeau County leaders push for new courthouse, seek comm - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Cape Girardeau County leaders push for new courthouse, seek community input

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) -

With two aging courthouses in Cape Girardeau County, talk of consolidating to a new building in the county seat has locals speaking up with very different opinions.

“A new courthouse would probably be wonderful,” Carrie Perez said.

“I would prefer it stay in Cape,” Vincent Stevens said.

County leaders say the Common Pleas building in Cape Girardeau and the courthouse in Jackson, both more than a century old, need an update. They say a new facility would cost between $20 and $30 million.

Presiding County Commissioner Clint Tracy said the county has outgrown the buildings' space, security and safety.

On a busy Tuesday morning, you sure won't find a lot of extra space outside the courtrooms in Jackson.

“It's very crowded here, it's hot, and there's no place to sit,” Perez said.

From the inside to out in the parking lot, the place is packed. However, county leaders say it's not only space that's the problem. There are safety issues like low ceilings and broken handrails. Plus, lacking security in both locations.

Tracy said a new courthouse would bring accessibility, more room, and eliminate security concerns by providing things like direct access to the courts from the jail.

Some citizens agree, however others aren't convinced.

“Updates and easier to access,” Perez said.

“I prefer that the courthouse stays in Cape Girardeau because I live here and it would be easier for me to go to court and get things done,” Stevens said.

Tracy says customer services like registering to vote and paying taxes, would likely still be offered in both Cape Girardeau and Jackson.

A group of nine Cape Girardeau County citizens is currently working on a facility study to help figure out the next steps. There will be a public meeting in Jackson on Thursday. The county welcomes input from the community.

There will also be a meeting next week to decide whether or not this issue will show up on the ballot in April, asking voters to decide on a use tax to pay for the new courthouse.

Copyright 2015 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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