Washington County Decides on Architect for Courthouse

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CHIPLEY-- Washington County officials have agreed on an architect to design a new courthouse facility.

Committee members met Friday morning with the firms bidding on the job.

But the project is still in the early stages.

Washington County courthouse employees have been working out of the county's annex building since December, when health officials condemned the old courthouse because of mold, mildew and structural issues.

The state has approved $9.2 million to build a new courthouse.

So county officials are starting the process, interviewing 8 architechtural firms wanting to design the facility.

"There's probably every single one that could do the job. They've built courthouse houses all over Florida and the country. So it's interesting to hear the different concepts," Harold Bazzel, Clerk of Circut Court, said.

The committee will vote on one of the architects, and then present them to the board of county commissioners.

"We're hoping to get a good product. Something that fits well into the community, that's functional. And keep a flavor of the history of the old Courthouse."

All of the plans include the latest safety and technology features.

"The latest technology. That's important in the court system. You know, the state of Florida is going paperless in our courts."

The ideal location for the new courthouse would be in the same spot as the old courthouse. That one would be torn down. The committee says it will take between 2 and 2 and half years to build.

But several of the architects the county interviewed Friday believe they can do the job in less time..

"The last presentation, which has a different concept that would move much faster. Most of what we hear is gonna be 2 to 2 and a half years. We really don't know."

No word as to when the county will break-ground on the new courthouse.

Late Friday afternoon the committee selected JRA Architects out of Tallahassee as the project's architect.

County commissioners have to approve the selection.