To make the necessary improvements to the superior courtroom where the session will be held on October 1, commissioners today approved an allocation of $35,000 from contingency that will not only accommodate the justices but lead to other necessary improvements.
Judge Alma Hinton told commissioners Halifax was one of the original towns where the court met before having a permanent home in Raleigh. “We’re very fortunate we have had five supreme court justices” from the county.
“This is a once in a lifetime thing for our supreme court justices to preside here in Halifax County,” board Chair Vernon Bryant said later in discussion on the matter. “I think it will be a wonderful thing.”
Hinton said she has met with county operations Director Ed Johnson who has come up with a plan to host the justices as well as make renovations to the 30-year-old courtroom.
The plans for hosting the justices include removing the existing jury box and constructing a temporary platform in front of the judge’s bench.
There would be carpeting for the temporary platform and the 12-foot tables in the grand jury room would be moved to the courtroom. Adequate audio would be installed for the justices.
Permanent renovations would include a new clerk work area, court reporter area and witness box. A new security wall would be constructed and new lighting and data, including new monitors, would be installed.
“It will make the courtroom more efficient and I think it will make us very proud,” Hinton said, adding later in the discussion, “I know it’s costly. Our courtroom is 30-years-old. We could get another 30 years, if not more, with the renovations.”
Commissioner Patrick Qualls asked whether there were any funds the county could pursue to offset the costs.
“I don’t know of any funding,” Hinton said.
“They’re kind of putting the burden on us,” Qualls said.
“They were very specific in their needs,” Hinton said. “I’m not aware of any funds. A suggestion has been made to ask (United States) Congressman (G.K.) Butterfield.”