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Judges act to insure Halifax courthouse repairs

The Commonwealth of Virginia has issued a show cause order against the Halifax County Board of Supervisors regarding the condition of the courthouse building in Halifax, according to court records.

Judge Joel Cunningham met with County Administrator George Nester last week to discuss plans to issue a legal action against the board that will insure this board of supervisors and future boards continue to make the necessary repairs to the courthouse.

According to Nester, the supervisors already are aware of the needed repairs, and the judges are being pre-emptive in keeping this board or future boards of supervisors from saying they weren’t going to make improvements.

“It’s a way to keep this project on track,” said Nester.

For some time supervisors have known the courthouse was in a condition that needed to be improved, including insuring the safety of people in the courthouse and American Disabilities Act issues that needed to be addressed.

Supervisors have already hired a firm, CJMW of Lynchburg, who is in the process of determining needed improvements.

At the time the court document was served to supervisors, the firm was meeting with courthouse officers to discuss spacing needs for future improvements, Nester said.

“It’s an old, historical courthouse that needs to be improved without compromising its historical nature.  It’s a double-edged challenge to make sure the whole building is made safe to meet current requirements and to preserve historic qualities,” Nester said of task facing supervisors.

This legal action amounts to a way for the judges to insure supervisors’ commitment to this task.

“They now have leverage to make the board continue to work to make these improvements,” Nester concluded.

Official court papers served on supervisors Tuesday described the county’s court facilities as  “insecure, out of repair, or otherwise pose a danger to the health, welfare and safety of court employees or the public…it is hereby ordered that the Supervisors of Halifax County show cause why a mandamus should not be issued, commanding them to cause the court facilities of Halifax County to be made secure, or put in good repair, or rendered otherwise safe, and to proceed as in other cases of mandamus, to cause the necessary work to be done,” the order reads.

The order was entered Monday, according to court records.