At an informational meeting in Wakonda recently, the Courthouse, Jail and Law Enforcement Facility Planning Committee said that the County Commissioners have absolutely no intention of demolishing the existing courthouse according to Vermillion Plain Talk article published on April 23, 2021.

Indeed, State’s Attorney Alexis Tracy said commissioners have an obligation to care for the structure. The need for a new roof and tuckpointing of the brick was evident for some time and highlighted in the Klein & McCarthy Architect’s 2018 report. Allowing water leakage into the building has (and will continue to) corroded the infrastructure, just as not fixing a leaking roof on any building will eventually undermine it structurally.

It now seems that the Clay County Commission has put off these needed repairs.

According to the March 9, 2021, Clay County Commission meeting minutes, $1 million is available to fix the roof and tuckpoint parts of the courthouse. Commissioners unanimously agreed to use the funds for these purposes. However according to Clay County Commissioners meeting minutes of the March 30, 2021, restoration of the building has been deferred. The money needed for repairs is now included in the June 8 election bond issued that requests $41 million to build an entirely new courthouse, law enforcement headquarters and jail.

Moreover, in the updated building timeline, desperately needed repairs to the current historical courthouse will be delayed until completion of a new remotely located courthouse complex. Thus, although funds are now available to stabilize and protect the current historical courthouse from further disintegration, commissioners have put off such repairs. To save the historic Clay County Courthouse, action should be taken now to provide good stewardship of this iconic and nationally recognized building.

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