- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Some elected officials in a northeast Arkansas county seek the consolidation of two old courthouses amid increasing maintenance costs.

The dual courthouse system was established nearly a century ago in Mississippi County, with one facility in Osceola and another in Blytheville, to make access to government services easier for residents, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1LFpCJa) reported.

County officials are discussing building a new courthouse and combining the operations, with preliminary plans calling for the construction of a 55,000-square foot, three-story building for about $15.8 million, County Judge Randy Carney said.

Tentative plans call for building a new courthouse in Blytheville near Interstate 55. Blytheville is the county’s largest city with 15,210 people.

Carney said it’s no longer feasible to have two county courthouses. Because of the buildings’ ages, courthouse utility costs rise each year.

Officials first looked at merging them last year when they wondered if a boiler system that heats the Osceola courthouse would survive through the winter, he said. Replacing the system would cost $60,000. The roof on the Blytheville courthouse also leaks, and it would cost around $300,000 to replace.

Mississippi County is one of 10 Arkansas counties with two seats. The others are Arkansas, Carroll, Clay, Craighead, Franklin, Logan, Prairie, Sebastian and Yell counties.

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