Friday tour will give Beauregard residents a closer look at cour - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Friday tour will give Beauregard residents a closer look at courthouse

The Beauregard Parish courthouse was built around 1913. The Beauregard Parish courthouse was built around 1913.
The lift that leads to the main courtroom. Officials say it is often inoperable. The lift that leads to the main courtroom. Officials say it is often inoperable.
A stairwell inside the courthouse that leads to the main courtroom A stairwell inside the courthouse that leads to the main courtroom
A rendering of the upgrade and annex plans A rendering of the upgrade and annex plans
DERIDDER, LA (KPLC) -

Beauregard Parish courthouse officials are inviting residents to stop by the parish courthouse from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday to get a closer look inside the facility.

Parish voters will decide a 15-year, 1/4 percent sales tax on Dec. 8 that, if approved, would be dedicated to handicapped accessibility upgrades and expansion of the aging building, which was built in 1913.

The money would allow renovation of the existing building and an annex to be built.

Court officials – and the public – have long complained of the building's inaccessibility. Some have said that its lack of access limits and discourages public access.

Division "A" Judge Martha O'Neal said that the public is welcome to stop by any time if they cannot make the Friday tour.

"The idea is to invite everyone in Beauregard Parish to come and see their courthouse," O'Neal said.

She said all of the court officials will be on hand to give tours and answer questions about their offices.

A steering committee has been meeting for months, examining options for the courthouse. The committee includes parish officials, citizens, architects, construction professionals and others.

The building does not have an elevator. Handicapped individuals must use a lift to access the main courtroom upstairs. Also, the building's only handicapped accessible restroom is located upstairs.

"Accessibility is an overall issue, it's not just the lift," O'Neal explained.

O'Neal said that many times, court workers have to meet residents with special needs at their vehicles to help them conduct their courthouse business.

"That's asking a lot of the people and a lot of the employees," O'Neal said.

O'Neal said, additionally, the courthouse is running out of space. The Clerk of Court is mandated to maintain parish records and O'Neal said space for those records is slim.

Court officials are also eyeing a new mandate for state district courts to implement security by July 2013.

O'Neal said judges are also handling more caseloads as the parish grows.

"Our parish is growing and we are quickly approaching the need for a third judge and that will require more space," she said.

The courthouse has two courtrooms – the main one upstairs and a smaller one downstairs which is not large enough to accommodate jury trials.

"If the tax doesn't pass, the courthouse could be closed," O'Neal said.

O'Neal said that the steering committee looked at several options, including purchasing property and building a new courthouse. She said that option and others were cost prohibitive.

She said when members toured the Morehouse Parish courthouse in Bastrop, which was built similarly to the Beauregard courthouse and designed by the same individual, they knew that renovation of the existing building and an annex would be possible.

"We got to see ahead of time what it looked like and what could happen," she said.

O'Neal said that courthouse officials have received a good response from the public on the proposal.

"We are very optimistic about this," she said.

Early voting for the Dec. 8 election continues through Saturday and takes place at parish registrar of voters' offices from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved.

  • More Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • Over a decade later and still no completion to the Enterprise Boulevard expansion project

    Over a decade later and still no completion to the Enterprise Boulevard expansion project

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 11:45 PM EST2018-02-22 04:45:40 GMT
    (Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)(Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)

    It was pitched an opportunity to bring economic growth to the north side of Lake Charles, but now ti seems the Enterprise Boulevard Extension project will never come to fruition.  The second phase still hasn't been completed to connect Enterprise Boulevard to Highway 171.  Wednesday night city council member Mary Morris suggested another plan to get things rolling.  Restaurants, condos and retail outlets was suppose to come for North Lake Charles, but it's been ...

    More >>

    It was pitched an opportunity to bring economic growth to the north side of Lake Charles, but now ti seems the Enterprise Boulevard Extension project will never come to fruition.  The second phase still hasn't been completed to connect Enterprise Boulevard to Highway 171.  Wednesday night city council member Mary Morris suggested another plan to get things rolling.  Restaurants, condos and retail outlets was suppose to come for North Lake Charles, but it's been ...

    More >>
  • Louisiana DOTD releases I-10 bridge construction details

    Louisiana DOTD releases I-10 bridge construction details

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 10:04 PM EST2018-02-22 03:04:07 GMT
    (Source: Calcasieu Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness)(Source: Calcasieu Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness)
    The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development announced that construction work on I-10 in Lake Charles is scheduled to begin on March 3. The expansion joints on the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge need maintenance which will be performed by C.E.C, Inc., a Lafayette-based company. The construction of the I-10 bridge must take place in order to handle the traffic volume anticipated during the upcoming I-210 re-decking project. The $8.5 million project on I-10 ...More >>
    The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development announced that construction work on I-10 in Lake Charles is scheduled to begin on March 3. The expansion joints on the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge need maintenance which will be performed by C.E.C, Inc., a Lafayette-based company. The construction of the I-10 bridge must take place in order to handle the traffic volume anticipated during the upcoming I-210 re-decking project. The $8.5 million project on I-10 ...More >>
  • State Police: 'See something, say something' using mobile app

    State Police: 'See something, say something' using mobile app

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 10:08 PM EST2018-02-22 03:08:11 GMT
    (Source: See it, Send it app)(Source: See it, Send it app)

    Copycat threats to schools have been report to law enforcement agencies across the country, state, and in Southwest Louisiana. Multiple suspects have been arrested, many charged with terrorizing, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $15,000 if charged as an adult. However, according to Louisiana State Police, the majority of the threats received were found to have no credible danger to public safety. "Although we highly encourage cit...

    More >>

    Copycat threats to schools have been report to law enforcement agencies across the country, state, and in Southwest Louisiana. Multiple suspects have been arrested, many charged with terrorizing, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $15,000 if charged as an adult. However, according to Louisiana State Police, the majority of the threats received were found to have no credible danger to public safety. "Although we highly encourage cit...

    More >>
Powered by Frankly