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The dirt will turn Friday as Northampton County and state officials put shovels in the ground to celebrate the upcoming construction of a new courthouse.

The ceremony will be held at noon on land just east of the State Employees Credit Union in Jackson.

Chief District Court Judge Brenda Branch said Chief Justice Paul Newby is expected to attend.

The groundbreaking comes as $14 million was included in the state’s budget for construction of a new courthouse.

The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald of Ahoskie reported that the county’s board of commissioners earlier this month agreed to purchase the land.

The parcel, approximately 10 acres in size, is located on Jefferson Street just east of the State Employees Credit Union building and within the town limits. The seller is listed as Lewis Bull Hill Properties LLC, a locally owned real estate property.

In February, the commissioners approved an option to purchase that parcel of land, giving them two years to decide if they wanted to exercise that option. In that agreement, the negotiated price for the 10-acre plot was $65,000 per acre, bringing the total to $650,000.

County Attorney Scott McKellar stated that the final purchase price for the property will be $621,050 after a negotiated reduction in price. 

That money will be paid from the county’s fund balance, and then will be reimbursed through the $14 million included in the state budget.

“It was an honor and privilege to get $14 million for the courthouse,” said state Representative Michael Wray.

The conditions of Northampton County’s current courthouse have long been a topic of discussion by the board.

Last December, Superior Court Judge Cy Grant and Branch attended the commissioners meeting to share their concerns and explain the need for a new building. They detailed structural problems that have caused issues with plumbing, mold, and bats over the years. They also mentioned safety and security as a major concern as well.

Conceptual designs for the courthouse from Oakley Collier Architects were also presented at that meeting.

At a meeting last month, board Chair Charles Tyner alluded to limitations on the current building, which is registered as a historic landmark, saying, “we cannot repair it to do what we need to do for our court system.”

Tyner estimated that construction on the new courthouse should begin in March.

The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald contributed to this report