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home : latest news : local April 28, 2016

4/22/2014 6:00:00 AM
Mohave County looks at new, $20M courthouse
Historic building downtown too small; what would happen to it?
Mohave County supervisors discussed moving out of the courthouse and into a new building Monday. (Miner)
Mohave County supervisors discussed moving out of the courthouse and into a new building Monday. (Miner)

Matt Reinig
Miner reporter

KINGMAN - Long after all the justices, bailiffs and courthouse staff had gone home for the evening, Mike remained at the Mohave County Courthouse well into the night.

He was sleeping in the wall.

"We had a homeless individual ... who was living in the courthouse," a state courts official told Mohave County Board of Supervisors Monday morning. "We found some of his personal effects in the courthouse, and that's the reason for the plywood over the wall."

It was also one of the safety concerns listed in a National Center for State Courts report recommending that Mohave County's 100-year-old courthouse be cleared of its operations so they could be moved to a new, three-story courthouse across the street from the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.

The county estimates the 88,000 square-foot building would cost at least $20 million and take two to three years to build, and is a project hinged largely on the prospect of renewing a quarter-cent sales tax set to expire in 2019.

Chang-Ming Yeh, facility planner for the National Center for State Courts, said one of the major areas they tried to address in their design feasibility study was adequate room for private and confidential consultation in the proposed building.

The quickest and surest way to make the L-shaped building a reality, court officials said, would be to lift the sunset clause and make the quarter-cent sales tax permanent, which would secure around $6 million a year.

"People say once government puts in a tax, it never goes away," Supervisor Hildy Angius said. "I'm one of the people who believes that."

A group of warehouses now stands where the proposed courthouse would be - northwest of the Government Administration Building - and although the construction site's location is a diversion from past talks of building in Golden Valley, the apparent need for it has been on the county's mind for some time.

But plans to move forward with a new courthouse were smothered by a combination of mandated construction of a new jail, building inflation and funding jail operations, which have and continue to receive most of the quarter-cent sales tax revenue, county officials said.

Even then the jail still requires an additional $1 million in funding annually, they added.

Those factors were not contemplated at the time the tax was implemented, said County Administrator Mike Hendrix.

But the county expects the jail will be paid off by 2017, at which time around $15 million will be added to the county coffers before the quarter-cent sales tax expires, and with another $3 million the county can begin phase one construction on the building.

Chang-Ming said the building plans were designed with a growing population in mind, allowing the county to continue expansion as the funding becomes available.

Phase one would accommodate only the Superior Court. Phase two would accommodate Superior Court and Justice Court, and phase three would accommodate both with administrative facilities.

Supervisor Steven Moss said the current courthouse has safety, health and fire hazards, which were depicted during the National Center for State Courts' presentation with photos of dirty windows, exposed air ducts and a closet utilized for workspace.

Also cited was a large pillar in one courtroom obstructing the view of the jury.

"The new courthouse is desperately needed," said Moss.

And due to the historical designation of the current courthouse, and its size, renovating the building would be "very difficult," county officials said.

Moss also noted the possibility that, due to projected growth, the county might have to build another jail by the time the county is able to fund the first phase of the construction project.

However, state courts officials noted the county could enter into a public-private partnership, and once the private company makes good on their investment, the county could purchase the building.

The question of what to do with the old courthouse in the event a new courthouse is built went largely unanswered during Monday's meeting, with the exception of one suggestion the county turn the historic building over to the city of Kingman.

ICT - Mohave Electric WI-Power Boy 2nd ad
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• What's to become of Mohave County's historic courthouse?

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, April 26, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

"It could be a professional building......"

Great idea. As long as it is sold to a private developer first.

"A small venue for the performing arts. Perhaps an art gallery."

Again, just fine. Someone can by it and do those things.

"But alas, where's the funding to do this?"

From private business and/or the pockets of people who want any of the three suggestions seems the logical answer.

Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Article comment by: buster brown

barstow ca. was able to save and restore the awesome harvey house train station. it is now home to a route 66 museum, a railroad museum and many offices for businesses. it is also used for amtracs depot. i know the city loses money maintaining it but the love for this incredible structure is more important. i dont see why something like this cannot be done here concerning kingmans old courthouse. to tear it down would be criminal.

Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Article comment by: Highly Amused

The only 'tremendous growth' I see in Kingman is fast food places, and honestly we have more than enough of those. We don't have any new department stores, and not many places that would attract our teens or young adults into STAYING in Kingman. This town is going to die unless the Good Ole Boys wake up, release their grip and let it go to a younger generation.

Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

Working at the old jail beneath the court house, on night shifts we would take the elevator up and do checks making sure all was secure and all doors locked. It was a wonderful beautiful experience to do that and going down that beautiful stair case.

Other cities take such pride in keeping and preserving their centuries old court houses.
What is wrong with the people running this county these days??

It needs to be preserved!! That building, the old United Methodist Church, the old Post office and the old Elks club are wonderful buildings, they should be kept and admired!

Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Article comment by: Desert Rat

This building is worthy of historical preservation and renovation. Its edifice alone is a testament to the history of Arizona's Wild West.

It could become a professional building where the tenants are attorneys, accountants, architects, dentists, etc.

It could become a small venue for the performing arts. Perhaps an art gallery.

Kingman's young artists and musicians would have a place to show their work or give their first performance.

In order for Kingman to have a vibrant future, infrastructure must be built and preserved for the younger generation. Otherwise, they'll go elsewhere.

But alas, where's the funding to do this?

Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Article comment by: Cliff Foster

There are more people, and thus more workers, in Mohave County now than there were in 1900. We now have powered tools and construction machinery. Materials are plentiful.

Yet apparently the community can not afford to build structures as magnificent as the old courthouse today.

Why do Mohave County's citizens constantly settle for the shoddy tilt-wall architecture exemplified by the new Sheriff and County Administration buildings? More importantly, why is Mohave County so much poorer as a community now than it was in the late pioneer days? How could a cowboy and mining community with a fraction the county's current population create endearing architecture, architecture which today's allegedly more advanced and prosperous moderns can only balk at paying for?

Kingman is sitting on a mountain of tufa stone. So where are the tufa buildings erected in the past half century? Where has our community's wealth gone? Where are the craftsmen? Why can't we afford to have beautiful buildings?

There's a reason postcards of Kingman show the old courthouse and not our Walmart or cubist government buildings. Beauty is worth something. It brings the tourists and pays for itself.

America is growing uglier because its citizens will not pay for the craftsmanship which builds beauty.

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: Just A Thought

Just a thought. Kingman is in decline and on its way to be another Seligman. Let's build this new nice building in Lake Havasu. Let up move the county seat there as well.

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: Observant Citizen

If you would take the time to go visit our court house, you will see what they are talking about.
It would be cheaper to put up a new building than to try to upgrade the old one.

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: over looked

are you kidding? this and a new armored vehicle? why doesn't the city ask for money to put in for some kind of recreational place for all the children tht have nothing to do except get into trouble!!! why aren't concerned about the citizens of this town??? for goodness sake, a 733,000$ armored vehicle, for what?? the dope users!!!! this town is more and more sickening as the years pass...why dont u help fund the people who have no day care for their children, so they can work?? Fix some of the terrible roads..20m$ for a court house that has worked this long, and now u all want to raise our taxes for this petty crap!!!!

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: Linda Eaton

This Court House is an awesome piece of History. My sons Grandpa built the rock wall at Metcalfe Park, he planted the trees also, and up El Travatore Hill. My Relative and their friends, from the area, are on The WWII plaque on the top floor of The Mohave County Courthouse. Every time I have gone there to do business, it has brought me great pride to know these great people. I travel up to The first floor and look at this Plaque with pride. The Old Hospital I had the pleasure to work at as a Public Health Aid in the 1980's. The Old Mohave Health Department is gone. Many people I know were born there. We are losing what Kingman stands for... History. Where has our pride gone when we are so willing to just wipe out our History and tax the max out of Citizens to build a new building that has no moral value what so ever. Yes the Court House is old but what a great feeling to know that. The Route 66 Festival is just around the corner, we need to show the whole world why we are Kingman Proud.

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: About the City Budget

Robert Green:

Reference your comment about the city budget. It would probably take up to much space to be printed by KDM.

However, the City of Kingman's budget information is available on the city website under >Government > Publications and Reports > Finance Reports. You will also find other financial information going back several years.

Also, it is the county looking to spend 20m on a court complex not the city.

Hope this information helps.

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: Christine Simmons

A Kingman City Resident:

Mr. Green....
FYI.. There are no city property taxes. All of your tax payments go to the schools and the county. The city operates on consumption tax (sales tax). You may request a review of all city budgets if you so wish

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: Linda Athens

What a horrible idea, Golden Valley would have been worse. But next to the 93/I 40 exchange?

This beautiful Court House should remain the court house. What is wrong with the people running this city? They build crap around the gorgeous old buildings with new ones that don't even blend in such as the building directly across the street and the hideous jail behind the Court House, now probably sitting empty.

They're going to mess around with Kingman until nothing at all is left and the old buildings are one of the draws here, many made out of natural stone from the area.

I also don't see this tremendous growth here everyone speaks about. We have a Ross, one Walmart, no big department stores.

In the 1940's and 1950's we had Central Commercial (department store), Alex's Toggery (men's and shoe store), Bessie Borden's (dress shop) plus a couple of more dress stores, three drug stores, Table Supply (grocery), Hafley's (grocery), Central Commercial (grocery), Clark's meat market (grocery) Market Basket (grocery) infantware store , a better Penney's then we now have which carried linens and rugs, etc, Finnegan's Hobby Shop, a large Dimestore, many eateries and a population of 4000.

Compared to LHC, BHC, not much grown in 75 years. Want new, move there.

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: Downtown Native

Yes just I we all thought, the county doesn't maintain their properties they'll just go build a new one and discard the old one. just like the old hospital, this will be left empty to fall aprart until it's unsaalvagable, then the'll knock it down.

Typical county building (lack of) maintainance and no concern for our history not to mention the current state of downtown.

Sure give it to the City who has no money to help save it. What a sham. What a shame.

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: Robert Green

This is probably a city hall issue but it would be quite fascinating to see the Kingman budget printed in the KDM, just once a year. $20M here, $780K there, ah
heck just raise the taxes, and if they don't pay the KPD can use that new tank mobile to go collect.

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: V Stokes

Speaking only for myself as a citizen of Kingman....we don't want your old run down County buildings. We have enough of our own to worry about.

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: thou shalt not lie, or lift the sunset clause .....

$20 million, for anything in Kingman besides a Dubai-class roundabout.....tells a prospective newcomer everything they need to know about this place. Lock 'em up and invest the key with Goldman Sachs. All right, these are just early morning first impressions. A mug of tea and some clear thinking will bring me back with some truly nasty observations.

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Harris

Hildy, I'm questioning my support for you. I'm concerned with your no-tax-any-time stance. It's obviously a good election strategy but is also a cop out in doing your job. In the PAST some tax money was wasted. Hildy, go through the offices, trail a road crew or sanitation worker. I think you'll actually find our taxes are well used to provide the necessary services we need as a society. Hildy, I assume you recognize the need for a modern large court house to deal with our ever increasing population, ever increasing criminal element, and to prepare us for the future. So the question I need you to answer is how is this to be built? Are we to ask the churches to send volunteers with hammers?What about materials - tell Home Depot to contribute those - what's that, you can't do that. We could ask the high school seniors to dismantle the old Arnold building one brick at a time and reuse those bricks. Let's ask the court employees to stand on the corners of the busiest intersections with hat in hand. They shouldn't object. Its a new building for them. No, Hildy it is a needed facility to provide the services we all need and planning for the future. A tax is the only way we all can contribute equally.

Miner, a map where this building is to built would have been very informative..

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: Moderately Independent


It's time that proposals to spend taxpayer monies be put to a vote of the people when they involve sums like this. We taxpayers of Mohave County can no longer trust our elected representatives to do the right thing when it comes to spending our money...a fact that has been painfully evident for the past few years.

$20 mil for a new courthouse when the recently completed administration building cost $6 mil...anybody else see a problem here?

I think given a choice between spending $20 mil on a new building this voter would opt to spend $2 or $3 mil renovating Arnold Plaza since something needs to be done with it anyway. Why spend money to build a new building and still spend money to do something with Arnold? It's crazy to spend and then spend again, isn't it?

If Arnold were re-purposed and some updates performed to the old courthouse we could not only satisfy space requirements while spending less money, but preserve what we have as well. I also feel distance between the two will not be an issue.

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: WOW REALLY

Really 20 million the BOS can't find any money for the last 6 years to give the sheriff officers a cost of living raise but they spent millions on new buildings for our 1/2 a** road dept. And now 20 million for another new building yet the patrol officers are told sorry we have NO MONEY FOR YOU !!!

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: Oh Ya

Don't forget to build a garage extension for the $733,000 armored fighting vehicle.

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Article comment by: justanobody sr

MORE TAXES! always a reason,, just more and more taxes, how about the county live within it 's means, just like the rest of us HAVE to do!

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