Police Jury starts special committee to begin old courthouse restoration

Published 4:40 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2024

VIDALIA, La. — It seems persistence may finally be paying off for the Vidalia Beautification Committee, which seeks to rehabilitate the historic old courthouse building with the support of the Concordia Parish Police Jury.

After a 20-minute executive session Monday, the police jury board resumed its open meeting and Police Juror Genesia Allen moved to start a committee that would be tasked with looking for grants and avenues to start the old courthouse restoration project. The motion was seconded by Wilbert Washington and passed by a vote of 7-0 with Adam Probst and Kenny Simpson both absent.

Back in August 2023, beautification committee member Cassandra Lynch addressed the police jury and asked for members’ support in rehabilitating the old courthouse, which has been the site used for annual festivals and decorated for holidays by the committee’s efforts.

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Lynch has attended nearly every police jury meeting since, asking for a status update on the courthouse on a couple of occasions.

When police jury members asked Lynch to submit her requests in writing, she did that. When asked if she knew of any grants to pay for it, Lynch said, “It’s your courthouse.”

The decision to start the committee is a first step, though no committee members were decided on as of Monday.

“I think it’s wonderful and a blessing,” Lynch said after the meeting. 

The courthouse was built in 1939 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. It has served a variety of uses through the years, including housing parish and school board offices, court, a jail and a library.

Through the volunteer efforts of the beautification committee and with the City of Vidalia’s support, the courthouse square has been decorated and is slated for improved flowerbeds and a flagpole. But the courthouse interior could use some love so that it can be used as a welcome center, tourist attraction and more, Lynch said.

“That courthouse has served us well and has a lot of potential for festivals, tours and a visitor’s center. We just need to treat her right and fix her up. I want to make sure people are aware that Vidalia has this historic building.”

In other matters during Monday’s meeting, Pamela Poole, the new Concordia Parish Coroner, introduced herself to police jury members. 

Poole said she will soon be discussing a new office space with the board and will be looking to hire staff members. Two part-time employees have stayed since the previous coroner Dr. Denis Laravia left office, she said.

For now, however, Poole said she came to the police jury meeting “just to say hello.”

In other matters during Monday’s meeting, the board passed a resolution referencing the benefits of the Community Development Block Grant fund so they could continue receiving support from the fund for upcoming projects. 

The board also approved Trane to make an HVAC system repair, which costs $3,155.50