Hall County Makes Little Progress with Six Courthouse Options


The Hall County Courthouse has been called a ticking time bomb.

"We don't know when the next pipe is going to break," County Board Chair Bob McFarland said. "We could have a disaster at any time."

The courts themselves carry a high case load, beyond what the building was designed for.

Hall County asked architects for options. They came up with six, which can be divided into two categories.

McFarland said, "Three of the options involve using the safety center building, the old jail if you will, and three involve additions."

Additions could be built to the east, north, or south. In any case, there would be a single entrance for the public and secure parking for judges.

They want those judges to weigh in. And because district courts host large trials, they need more space. The county would rather put smaller county courts in the addition.

"We can build a smaller addition and save some money," McFarland said.

But it doesn't have to be an addition. Architects are also exploring the option of using the old jail. But that could be costly, because it may require a third floor to be built, and major renovations.

McFarland said, "Personally, I'm in favor of an addition, just don't know what addition yet."

The seven member Hall County Board has yet to present the options in public, only in the four-person facilities committee.

At least one board member hasn't had time to review the options either.

The board chair admits the discussion is slow to develop, but in the coming weeks, they will hear directly from the architects and also finance experts.

However, until they narrow it down, they can't answer the questions taxpayers have.

Steve Schuppan said he hears the same questions from his constituents. "Where are you going to get the money, how much will it raise my taxes?"

They still don't know what all of this will cost. There's some thought to expand the scope and deal with other space needs.

But they're also mindful that Grand Island schools are preparing a bond issue that'll likely be more than 50 million dollars.

Hall County Courthouse Options

A1Historic courthouse: three district courtroomsAnnex: two county courtrooms
A2Historic courthouse: three county courtroomsAnnex: two large district courtrooms, one small district courtroom
A3Historic courthouse: district court, historic courtroomAnnex: six courtroomsAdd 3rd floor to annex
B1Two story addition to the east
B2Two story addition to the north
B3Two story addition to the south