Officials Break Ground For Federal Courthouse

Construction work is already well underway, but the official ground breaking for the new federal courthouse was held in downtown Gulfport Wednesday morning.

Sen. Trent Lott led a group of dignitaries in the ground breaking ceremony.

The $50 million project includes a new eight-story courthouse building. The old Gulfport High School building will be saved and converted into office space for the U.S. Attorney and other federal agencies.

Those involved in planning the project say the courthouse complex represents a blend of future space needs with an appreciation for local history.

"Where we sit today is under a tree that Judge Russell planted some 70 years ago I think, and his home site was back here behind this building and was taken for this school. That also adds a little color to it," U.S. District Judge Walter Gex said.

Sen. Lott praised the hard work and cooperation that went into the planned federal facility.

"There's no question this was a cooperative effort, and I think the community is well pleased with the result," Sen. Lott said. "There were other proposals that were not popular. But I think to preserve the old Gulfport High School that dates back to 1923 and have a new eight-story courthouse right next to it will be very good for downtown Gulfport and Harrison County."

Roy Anderson is the primary builder on the project. The new federal courthouse is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2003.