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Emotions High as Mitchell County Courthouse Comes Down

Created: 02/04/2014 6:44 PM KAALtv.com
By: Justin Thompson-Gee

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It's a story we have been following for a few years, and Tuesday demolition began on the Mitchell County courthouse.

Built in 1858, it has been a center for community members in the county and city of Osage for over a century.

"It's where people married, it's where death certificates are, it's where people paid their taxes, got their drivers licenses. Everybody uses the courthouse and now it's gone," said Mary Mill Dunea, who's great-grandfather helped build the courthouse.

Although many are sad to see the courthouse go, county officials say it was the only reasonable solution.

"It was obvious that it was never going to be able to be fixed for the amount of money that the county wanted to spend," Mitchell County Supervisor Joel Voaklender.

Dore a& Associates has been on site for a few weeks preparing the building for demolition, removing asbestos, and removing historical artifacts like the original safe.

"This history is still here, we are all still in Mitchell County. This building is just a building. We're going to put another building in it's place that will function far better than this building ever could have," Voaklender added.

Demolition is expected to last the rest of the week before construction on a new courthouse begins.

"We're moving on. I mean hopefully in the Spring we will see a hole in the ground and shortly thereafter we'll see a building going up," Voaklender said.

With demolition ongoing, some in the community still disagree with the decision to tear down the old courthouse including Dunea.

"There are a lot of broken hearts today in Mitchell County and one of them is mine. Destroying it is a terrible, terrible thing to do," Dunea said with tears in her eyes. "I just don't think there's anything else to say."

The demolition and new courthouse is expected to cost the county $7 million dollars. A community meeting on the project will be held Thursday at 5pm in the county services building.