Carter County: 'It's our house. Let's fix it.'
The first walls of the courthouse that sits in the heart of Van Buren were erected when Carter County was still in its infancy.
The wood was cut and hand-planed nearly 150 years ago by the residents who would one day register their marriages there, the births of their children and the homes that would shelter their families.
The iconic stone facade that is recognizable by everyone who has ever visited to float the Current River was added about 65 years later, according to local historians.
While the face changed, the structure continued to mark important moments in the lives of the children and grandchildren of its builders.
The halls have now been empty for nearly two years since a historic flood brought waters that filled the basement and first floor.
It has waited while government, officials and citizens debate its future. With love and nostalgia, the hope was always that the courthouse would retain its original and important functions.
But with documents signed Dec. 27, the door closed on that part of its history. The county has been awarded $8.6 million for a new county complex. Itís a lot of money for anyone, but particularly when all spending by the county government is typically about $1 million a year.
FEMA has said the funds cannot be used to repair the historic courthouse.
But someone needs to. The history of generations should not be allowed to deteriorate in the courthouse square.
At public meetings held since the flood, residents have said, refuse the government money and weíll fix it ourselves.
While the county may have been split on whether or not to accept federal money to construct a new county complex, that decision has been made.
Itís time for residents, county officials, and anyone who loves Carter County to move forward, and come together, with the one matter everyone agreed with, ďItís our house. Letís fix it.Ē
ó Daily American Republic