In Apr. 10-16 issue By Greg Wells Times Journal Managing Editor
JAMESTOWN - The board charged with locating and building the Russell County Judicial Center has delayed its meeting a week this month, partly to accommodate members' schedules and partly to await the final appraisal on property they are considering for the building's location.
The Russell County Property Development Board will meet at 4 p.m. on April 14th, according to a release from the board's chairman, Mickey Garner.
Garner said members of a committee appointed by the board have been meeting with the property owners.
"We've made offers," Garner said. "Most people want more."
He said he doesn't know of any counter offers by the four property owners contacted so far. He said there is a meeting on the morning of the 14th with another property owner.
Local attorney Kevin Shearer and Circuit Clerk Tony Kerr, both members of the board, said they were aware of some dissatisfaction with the offers being made for the property downtown.
Garner said it was up to the state agency that funds the courts and is in charge of the project, Administrative Office of the Courts, to decide the next step if the property owners are not satisfied with the appraisals.
Government agencies have the power of eminent domain and can condemn property needed for public projects if necessary. Garner said the board has not discussed that prospect.
Should condemnation be the necessary step, Kentucky law provides first for a committee to set the price for the property and if that is not to the property owner's liking it can lead to jury trial to decide the value, and therefore amount of reasonable compensation for, property seized.
Though the board may meet in secret to discuss the offers made and their reception by the property owners, they may not vote either to purchase a piece of property or to condemn a property while in closed session, according to Kentucky law.
The law actually provides that no votes of any kind may be taken in a secret session.
One property owner, June Francois, has contacted the Times Journal and expressed her extreme displeasure at the offer made by the board for her property adjoining Linda's Diner.
She said the offer was half what she felt the value of her property was and took issue with the appraisal.
"An extensive in-depth appraisal," she said dismissively. "He made that by looking in the window of a two-story building did he?"
The city has not officially commented on the offer made for city hall and other property that would be needed, though there are loud rumblings from some close to the deal that the offer was not well received.
Kerr said that negotiations are continuing with property owners.Shearer said they were set to meet with some this week and another property owner on Monday.
"Hopefully we'll be able to move forward at the next meeting," Kerr said.
He explained that the wait on one more appraisal along with court schedules for some of the attorneys and judges on the board as well as spring break for county schools made next week the better choice for the next board meeting.
The budget for the project is $11.7 million, with $ of that earmarked for the purchase of the property.
The Property Development Board will meet again next Monday to consider the property and future of the judicial center.
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
P.O. Box 190
120 Wilson St.
Russell Springs KY 42642
Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
404 Monument Square
Jamestown KY 42629