Jones County residents vote whether to maintain two courthouses

Published: Aug. 18, 2016 at 10:56 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 10, 2016 at 11:58 AM CDT
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The courthouse in Laurel.
The courthouse in Laurel.
The courthouse in Ellisville
The courthouse in Ellisville

JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - For over a century Jones County has operated and paid for two courthouses; one in Laurel and one in Ellisville.

They are just eight miles a part, and after an announcement this week one of those courthouses may become obsolete.

Jones County Board of Supervisors said switching to a one courthouse system is a way to save tax dollars, but some residents say it is more about convenience.

Jones County Tax Assessor/Collector Ramona Blackledge maintains offices in both Laurel and Ellisville courthouses. She said it has been convenient to have two locations, but one location would help save money.

"Of course, anytime you have double offices you have double expenses trying to fund staff and supplies and all that as well," Blackledge said.

Chancery Clerk Bart Gavin also works out of both offices. He said one courthouse would help to limit confusion.

"It would be less confusing as far as bringing in juries," Gavin said. "Knowing where to file your case whether it's in circuit or chancery court. You need to know if it's the southern part of the county case or the northern part of the county. It would free up that up."

Some residents said two courthouses are more convenient.

"Well obviously I live in Ellisville so it's definitely more convenient to come to Ellisville to take care of that type of business," resident Sharon Shoemake said. "Ellisville is a little farther south so it could accommodate the people in the southern part of the county also."

Jones County resident Seth Cole said, "I would prefer things to stay here because that would just jumble up the amount of people trying to get things done in the courthouse in Laurel."

WDAM conducted a twitter poll to find out what residents thought about Jones County's option to continuing maintaining two courthouses.

Blackledge said what the community wants is important.

"If they're willing to pour more money into these buildings, then so be it," Blackledge said. "They've spoken, because that's what's important. What the people want, not what we want."

The vote is a non-binding referendum, which means the board is not required to act on the outcome.

Officials said the vote is more of a survey to get an idea of what the people of Jones County want to happen to the courthouses.

The Ellisville courthouse is a historical landmark and cannot be closed.

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