- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Osceola officials are angry about the process in which justices are consolidating Mississippi County’s two seats into a larger courthouse in Blytheville.

Earlier this year, County Judge Randy Carney and several members of the Mississippi County Quorum Court began moving forward with plans to consolidate the county’s two courthouses in Blytheville and Osceola. Officials in Osceola weren’t happy with the decision and retained former Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel to represent the city, the Jonesboro Sun (https://bit.ly/1P5sXVx ) reported.

Osceola Mayor Dickie Kennemore said the issue has been “mishandled” by the quorum court, with meetings taking place “in smoke-filled rooms and back-room meetings.”

“I don’t care if they want to build their $20 million Taj Mahal courthouse in Blytheville,” Kennemore said, “as long as they leave our courthouse alone.”

Carney and Kennemore recently agreed that the city’s courthouse would remain a functioning county seat, McDaniel said. But Justice Michael White, who spearheaded the consolidation effort, told the newspaper on Tuesday that the Osceola courthouse will be repurposed once the courthouse in Blytheville is complete.

“We had agreed as long as they leave our courthouse alone we will be neutral in the matter,” Kennemore said. “Then White, with his omnipotent attitude, told people at the finance committee meeting that they were going to get the funding to build the new Blytheville courthouse and that there would not necessarily be two courthouses.”

Although White doesn’t want to see the Osceola courthouse destroyed or fall into a state of disrepair, he said he feels the county would be better served by constructing a new courthouse and operating from one central location.

“We are trying to keep the old building in Osceola,” White said. “We are talking about repurposing the building for other uses. It’s a multiple step process. We are just making sure we are staying within our legal boundaries.”

Kennemore claims White is changing the terms again. The city of Osceola is prepared to take legal action if necessary, McDaniel said.

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Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, https://www.jonesborosun.com

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