Courts moved from 'unsafe' Massac County Courthouse

Courts moved from 'unsafe' Massac County Courthouse

METROPOLIS, IL (KFVS) - Superman may stand guard over the Massac County Court House, but that hasn't stopped the building from falling apart.

Now, workers are moving out while the county tries to find a way to pay for repairs.

Roughly $5 million in work is needed to the courthouse, but voters in the county said they didn't want to pay for it when they struck down a tax hike in recent elections.

The hike would have raised the county's sales tax from just over 6 percent, to just over 7 percent.

"This would have been temporary, to help the county pay for a roughly $5 million bond measure to pay for the repairs," County States Attorney Patrick Windstorm said. "To my knowledge, the plan was to return it to normal levels once the bond was paid off, and repairs complete."

Built in 1942 at the literal crossing of "Truth," "Justice" and "American Way" (the latter-most also known as Fifth Street in Metropolis) the structure's ceilings now leak heavily, and are falling apart, in addition to plumbing, and the heating systems.

Paint is peeling from the walls due to apparent water damage in most rooms on the upper stories, and tarps and garbage bags protect vital county records from the elements.

"We need a better environment to work in," Windstorm said. "This creates issues that affect efficiency and operation of the justice system, and affect the ability to do our jobs the way we are supposed to do them."

When asked why the courthouse was allowed to fall into such an obvious state of disrepair, Windstorm pointed out two failed bond measures in recent years struck down in elections, and said the question would be better answered by a county commissioner.

"It was in a horrible state when I came in three years ago, and in my opinion the can just kept getting kicked down the road," County Chairman Jeff Weber said over the phone on Tuesday. "A lot of minor problems have now turned out to be major, because they weren't taken care of when they probably should have been... because funds were appropriated to places besides the building's maintenance."

A commissioner's meeting on Tuesday morning moved the Massac County Courts out of the building, bound for a recently donated structure which was once a branch of Banterra Bank on Eighth Street in Metropolis.

Windstorm said representatives of the courts called the building unsafe at the meeting, and recommended the move to the Banterra building.

The temporary structure doesn't meet state standards for a courthouse, according to Windstorm, so it can only be used as an "emergency facility" for nine months as the county researches other options

Following the move which began on Tuesday, some departments remain in the old courthouse because the Banterra building is not large enough to house them.

Windstorm said whether or not the old courthouse is worth saving is contingent on the results of an asbestos and mold test, which should be completed within the following month.

County leaders may also try again on the temporary sales tax increase during the November 2016 elections, according to Windstorm

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