09/29/05 — Duplin seeking ways to relieve overcrowding

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Duplin seeking ways to relieve overcrowding

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on September 29, 2005 1:54 PM

KENANSVILLE -- While the county's agricultural people breathe a sigh of relief in new offices at Duplin Commons, Duplin commissioners are considering several ways to relieve overcrowding at Courthouse Square.

County Planner Mike Aldridge developed five scenarios, and each option creates its own chain reaction.

His plans center around the now-vacated spaces in the former Cooperative Extension Service Building across Duplin Street from the original portion of the courthouse, which is undergoing renovations.

Furniture, courtroom benches and audience pews are in, and the finishing touches like the final touch-up work and getting the elevator inspected and certified are next on the agenda. The boilers were to be fired up this morning..

Displaced office workers and the courts are expected to move back into the original part of the courthouse in early November.

Meanwhile, court is being held in the community meeting room downstairs in the Social Services building and in the auditorium of the old Cooperative Extension Service Building.

Aldridge said the courthouse renovation project is in its last 5 percent of work. While they waited for the work to be finished, Aldridge said several county departments had to find temporary quarters. He said all of the Clerk of Court office workers are jammed into the courthouse annex, which is connected to the original courthouse by an atrium. Adult Probation offices have been relocated into the old jail across the street. Juvenile Probation has moved into the Building Inspections building next to the Animal Shelter across town.

"We had to put people where we could," he said.

In the new Cooperative Extension Service offices at Duplin Commons, Cooper-ative Extension Director Ed Emory said residents are already booking the auditorium for $300 a day. County agencies get to use it free, when it's available.

A conference room on the Cooperative Extension side of the building is available for $100, and a large demonstration kitchen is available for $50.

All agriculture services are under one roof now by federal mandate, and the Farm Service Agency and Soil and Water Conservation office is on the other side of the agricultural office building. It has lockers and a shower for field agents and an office for the Rural Center visitors when they come from Kinston by appointment.