OLIVET, S.D. — A county commission is moving forward with plans for a new $4.5 million courthouse in southeast South Dakota amid opponents trying to put the project to a vote.

Hutchinson County’s current courthouse was built in 1881 and is the oldest in use in the state.

County commissioners decided Tuesday to pursue property for the new courthouse in Olivet, just west of the current courthouse, Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan reported . The 22,000-square-foot (2,040-sq. meter) facility is projected to cost about $4.5 million.

Commissioner Jerome Hoff said the new courthouse will include garage space, particularly for the sheriff’s department to provide safer inmate transport.

Hutchinson County set up a construction fund in anticipation of the new courthouse. Auditor Diane Murtha said the fund contains $2.7 million, and the rest of the project funding would be borrowed.

Murtha said they’d like to start construction this spring, though no final decisions have been made.

“Our construction manager has estimated 14 months to complete it, so we’re looking at moving into the building next year,” said Murtha.

Olivet resident Josh Hora said opponents are circulating a petition to put the proposed courthouse on the ballot.

Murtha confirmed that commissioners have heard of the petition, but they don’t know what it requests or how many people have signed it.

“We feel that we’re spending the county’s money wisely,” said Commissioner Steve Friesen. “It’s a challenge, but we feel that we’re at a point where something needs to be done.”

Commissioners will hold a public meeting about the project sometime this month.


Information from: Yankton Press and Dakotan, http://www.yankton.net/

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