Fannin County leaders speak out on future of courthouse

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FANNIN COUNTY, OK -- It's a controversial issue in Fannin County, whether or not they are going to renovate or build a new courthouse in the near future. Nicolette Schleisman spoke with County leaders Thursday.

The Fannin County Courthouse has not had a major renovation since the 1960's.

Everyone News 12 spoke with agrees it needs an update, but how to fund these renovations, and when, is the major issue.

"It's going to go out to the people. And the people are going to decide when they want that to happen, if they want that to happen," said Judge Spanky Carter.

Fannin County Judge, Spanky Carter, says the citizens will ultimately decide on the future of the courthouse based on concepts from the long term planning committee.

"They will come up with ideas that they want to recommend to the commissioners court," said Carter.

336th District Judge, Lauri Blake, says it is about more than just building a new courthouse. She says the security is in dire need of improvement.

"Anybody who comes into this courthouse will know that the courthouse security is negligible. It's really relegated to personnel and if the doors locked," said Blake.

Blake says shootings in other counties raise concern in Fannin County for employees, jurors and citizens.

"We have to make sure that when any body in the public has a dispute and they wanna resolve those disputes, that the venue is safe. They need to be able to come to the courthouse and be safe," said Blake.

Carter is not against the idea of a new courthouse, but says the most important thing is not to raise taxes for residents. And to listen to what they want.

"We're not going to do anything without the approval - nothing on this grand of scale - without the approval of the citizens of Fannin County," said Carter.

Blake says, there are ways to fund needed renovations, without a tax hike. By expanding the tax base through eco-tourism and increasing population.

"Let's make the most of the courthouse we have... lets improve it to as much as we can, let's study it. And let's go ahead and move forward and give the public an opportunity to tell us what they want," said Blake.

Space is another issue, many say the current court house is too small to accommodate the county's business.

But timing remains the big question. Some leaders say it may have to wait until the next presidential ballot in 4 years, while others would like it voted on sooner.

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