Stone County Courthouse Gets Major Facelift

The judges, clerks, and politicians have all moved out but there is still plenty of activity buzzing around the Stone County courthouse. A county supervisor says conditions were so bad that some judges threatened to stop holding court there. Now a $2.4 million renovation and expansion is underway.

"The courthouse was deplorable. it was kind of shameful the way it was," said supervisor Duncan Hatten.

Even with its cracked floors and cramped rooms, many people weren't ready to say goodbye to the Stone County courthouse.

"It's a landmark for Stone County, for Wiggins. We didn't want to do away with the courthouse. We wanted to add to it and put the room on that we needed."

Crews gutted the original building to give every office more space which is good news for Circuit Clerk Kenny Hatten.

"There was a vault for filing and in the vault area files where stacked in boxes from the floor to the ceiling."

The expanded courthouse will have elevator, a youth court and Internet access for everyone. At the same time, it will maintain the feel of early 20th century.

"All of the addition is on the back of the courthouse. The front of the courthouse had to stay as it was, or whenever it's finished it will have to look exactly like it did before. We can't change the windows and doors and such as that."

Hatten said it was time to get rid of the shame not the courthouse.

"The people of the county need a place to go to do their business, their county business you know that they can be proud of."

The courthouse staff is working out of the justice court building while the courthouse is being renovated. Supervisor Hatten says he hopes to move back into the courthouse in early June.