Bienville building new public facilities

By Mary K. Hamner
Journal Correspondent

Framework is up on what promises to be an impressive new structure that will house the Courthouse Annex in Ringgold, Louisiana.

The Annex will be occupied by the sheriff's substation, satellite offices of the clerk of court and tax assessor, as well as the parish health unit. A large meeting room, central to the building, will accommodate community gatherings and will serve as the centralized voting precinct for Ringgold.

The new building replaces parish government offices that had been located in the southern part of Bienville Parish as early as the 1980s.

Sheriff Arvis Whitman first used Ringgold's Town Hall for a sub station," Rodney Warren, Bienville Parish Police Jury Secretary Treasurer said. "In time, the sheriff's substation was moved to a long abandoned Ringgold School building that had been built in the 1950s. The tax assessor and the clerk of court and the health unit had satellite offices there as well."

"The Bienville Parish Police Jury began addressing the problems relating to the old office buildings as early as 2008," Warren continued. "The Ringgold building was in bad repair and had been plagued with plumbing and roofing problems for years. The same was true of the main courthouse located in Arcadia that was built in the 1950s. In addition to the ongoing deterioration of both buildings, they were running out of room. Veterans Affairs office is housed in a closet and there is no place for the District Attorney's office."

Voters approved a 3.5-mill, 20-year property tax to pay for the $8 million courthouse and the annex. Approximately $1.6 million will be required for construction of the Ringgold Annex building with an estimated completion date of August 19, 2011. Bids for the main two-story courthouse building to be located on the north side of Interstate 20 in Arcadia will be let in February. This courthouse construction should take 16 to 18 months to complete.