Courthouse architect among executive session talk

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 3, 2001

NATCHEZ – Adams County supervisors’ Monday meeting included a three-hour, closed-door executive session that addressed the federal courthouse, a medical office building and an industrial prospect, supervisors said.

Following a meeting in executive session Monday with Natchez Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith, Adams County supervisors voted to contract with the city to hire Wagoner and Ball as architects for the federal courthouse.

&uot;We just voted to go along with the city on it,&uot; said supervisors President Sammy Cauthen.

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City officials had requested supervisors’ approval prior to the next Natchez aldermen meeting. Smith referred questions regarding the executive session to supervisors.

Federal officials hope $4.7 million worth of renovations will be done to the Memorial Hall building and that the facility will be open for court by October 2003.

Funding for the project includes $1.8 million from the General Services Administration and $1 million from the U.S. Marshals Service.

The City of Natchez and the county will split equal parts the cost of the project, which could be up to $1.9 million, depending on whether the Department of Archives and History approves a $500,000 grant.

The department is set to meet Friday in Jackson to decide whether the grant, which includes a 20 percent local match, will be awarded.

Also in executive session, the board heard an update from Natchez Regional Medical Center officials on the planned construction of a medical office building behind the hospital’s current office buildings.

&uot;We’ve done much of the planning and early development of the project already,&uot; said hospital Administrator Jack Houghton. &uot;The next issue for the supervisors’ attention would be the ground lease.&uot;

The 50,000-square-foot building would cost approximately $5 million to construct and would be built on land leased from the county, he said.

&uot;In order to lease property, the Hospital Board and the Board of Supervisors have to have a consultant make a (feasibility) study of the project, and that’s what we presented to the supervisors,&uot; said Hospital Board Chairman Billy Gillon.

The building would be developed by a group of more than 15 doctors, &uot;so the hospital wouldn’t be out any money,&uot; Houghton added. Neither Gillon nor Houghton would name the doctors.

In addition, supervisors in executive session talked with an unnamed industrial prospect and Michael Ferdinand, executive director of the Natchez-Adams County Economic Development Authority.