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franklin county times

Cramped: County weighs space options

By Staff
CRAMPED SPACE Investigator John Calhoun, left, of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department, Chief Deputy Mike Mitchell, Administrative Assistant Edna Clark, and
Investigator Casey McElhenney talk in the department's Criminal Investigation Division. The division has grown from two investigators to six over the past eight years. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star.
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
July 12, 2004
Trying to conduct business at the Lauderdale County Courthouse, or its annex building across the street, can be frustrating for the average citizen.
The task often involves motorists making several trips around the block in search of a parking space. If the destination is the tax collector's office in the Lauderdale County Courthouse, the mission is sometimes followed by standing in a long line waiting to get in.
Lauderdale County is hurting for space. Many county offices and departments are in need of more room and the people who work in those offices are getting complaints about the limited parking.
Lauderdale County Tax Collector Stanley Shannon said once four or five people come to his small office, some of them are standing in the lobby of the courthouse. He said his office, which often has as many as five people waiting on customers at a time, needs at least six cashiers to wait on people.
Lauderdale County Tax Assessor Jimmy Slay said his office, also in the courthouse, could use more room, especially during January-March when most people are filing their homestead exemptions.
Slay said he has asked supervisors about areas where his office could expand, but nothing has come of it.
Slay also said he constantly receives complaints about the parking.
He added that the parking problem isn't just one for taxpayers, but for people coming to court and serving on juries.
Sheriff's department
The Raymond P. Davis Courthouse Annex, across the street from the courthouse, is where some of the offices of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department are located. Some of the offices are in the Lauderdale County Detention Facility next door.
But Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie said his department, which has more than tripled in size over the past eight years, needs more room, too.
Recent rains dumped more than 2 inches of water through the leaky roof of the task force headquarters in downtown Meridian. Maj. Ward Calhoun of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department said there are mold and mildew problems with the building because of the water.
The building the task force uses was donated to the county by The Riley Foundation according to Lauderdale County District 4 Supervisor Joe Norwood, who also serves as president of the board.
The next most pressing need for the sheriff's department is more room for investigators.
With the exception of the task force, Calhoun said the goal of the department is to have one location.

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